Gamification – it’s easier than you might think

Gamification banner - video game style platform with glowing trophy

Heard about gamification, but don’t really know where to start? Then this is the article for you.

Truth is, gamification is a fantastic way to improve learning outcomes for employees and students alike. In this post, we’re covering what gamification is, how it works, and why it’s easier than you might think. 

What is gamification in learning?

Gamification is a learning tactic that places game elements in the context of learning. Gamified content increases learner motivation, engagement, and retention by triggering the release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter strongly associated with learning and memory).

The learning technique is implemented by adding game mechanics to learning content. Some examples of game mechanics are:

  • Scoring and achievements: Learners earn points as they move through the content. Specific achievements may carry more weight than others.
  • Jeopardy: Creating time pressure and risk around decision-making for learners can increase engagement.
  • Meaning: Put learners in positions where their decisions have consequences and they feel the impact of the choices they make by seeing relevant outcomes. Storytelling also helps. 
  • Rewards: Digital or physical rewards can be granted for reaching learning milestones.
  • Goal tracking: Giving feedback on progress can help learners understand how close they are to achieving certain goals. In a company setting, learners can see how their performance contributes to the company’s overall goals. 

Benefits of gamification in learning

An open book with graphics showing learning coming to life.

Gamification makes use of the brain’s natural knack for logic and problem solving, adding elements that make the process rewarding. According to neuroscience, gamification in education works in five ways:

1. Engaging emotions

Gamified elements engage our emotions, which boost the encoding and retrieval of information. This catches the learner’s attention and helps them form an emotional connection with the content, and with other learners via friendly competition. An attentive learner is more receptive to new information. 

2. Hippocampal memory

Gamified learning also stimulates the hippocampal memory (hippo-what?!?), which releases dopamine and sends new information into the learner’s long-term memory and promotes focus. This means that gamification in learning promotes better retention and recall.

3. Story format

Ever wondered why you learned more about historical events from fiction books and movies than from history textbooks? Our brains prefer to learn in a story format. Stories are easier to process than a list of facts. Gamification content implements storytelling as a vehicle for delivering information to students, making the content easier to understand and retain.

4. Endorphin release

Endorphins are our best friends. They help us release stress, relax, and stay focused. Playing an engaging game produces these magic chemicals, creating the perfect internal learning environment. 

5. Neuroplasticity

Lastly, games help our brains grow and change through neuroplasticity. The brain doesn’t ever stop growing– it learns from stimuli as we go through life, creating new synaptic connections that rewire our neural pathways to form new habits and improve skills like memory, attention, creativity, and problem-solving. Gamification supplies our brains with stimuli designed to promote enhanced learning and prevent cognitive decline as we age.

What can gamification do for your organisation?

Woman at laptop smiles at camera with sense of achievement

  • Improve knowledge: Gamification has learners recall information and problem-solve while learning, which promotes better knowledge retention. Interactive learning games can increase an organisation’s long-term retention rates by up to 10 times.
  • Give learners the power to track their performance: Gamification allows employees to track their performance in real-time. They can receive feedback on their learning progress as the year progresses, rather than waiting for one catch-all eval at the year’s end. When a learner chooses the wrong path in a branching video or makes a bad choice in an interactive video, they’re immediately prompted with corrective feedback. When they go the right way, they’re met with positive feedback to encourage their learning. 
  • Boost achievement: Gaming adds another level of dimension to work. By implementing gamification, employees can boost productivity and enjoyment while getting work done. Happier, more productive employees push the company toward a better bottom line.
  • Promote learning and development: Giving employees interactive learning opportunities promotes learning and development within the workforce and pushes the entire organisation closer to overarching business goals. 
  • Foster innovation: Gamification fosters innovation and paves the way for career advancement. Back in 2011, 46,000 people used the crowd-sourcing game Foldit to determine the structure of a key protein scientists believe may help cure HIV in just 10 days. Scientists had been working on the structure for 15 years. Gamification inspires employees to solve problems in new ways. The same techniques you use to reach the next level in Candy Crush can go a long way when applied to day-to-day work tasks.

What gamification does for learners

  • Improves classroom engagement: Students become more engaged and productive in a gamified learning environment. 
  • Aids development: Gamification can aid both cognitive and physical development in adolescents. Young learners experience an increase in the activity of the regions of the brain responsible for development. Learning through gamification improves the rate at which the brain processes and retains information as students grow. When applied to physical exercise, gamification can entice students to be more physically active.
  • Accessibility: Gamification is an effective method for teaching students diagnosed with autism.

Why gamification is easier than you think

Gamification is as easy as any kind of content creation, so long as you have the right tools. 

Getting started is pretty simple. You’ll need some sort of gamification software, interactive video software, branching scenario software, or the like. Use your gamification authoring tool to create interactive video content.

If video is your thing you can easily make interactive video games: a genre traditionally known as FMV or ‘Full Motion Video’. You could film real footage or some software options (like Vyond or Canva) come with ready-made templates to streamline the content creation process. You can choose characters or create your own then customise them by adding props and advanced movements. Vyond even allows you to add pre-recorded audio and have characters lip sync whatever you want them to say.

Here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Create an immersive storyline that carries learners through the content. 
  • Implement visually-stimulating elements in the interactive video. 
  • Have a leaderboard for friendly competition/motivation by allowing team members and students to compare performance.
  • Recognise achievements as learners progress through the interactive scenarios.
  • Integrate instant feedback into interactive video training to encourage learners.

Here’s a quick demo showing you exactly how to get started with gamification using Near-Life CREATOR. You’ll learn how to create a branching scenario with hotspots and buttons, add gamification features using conditions and achievements, and even learn how the tool’s analytics can report learner interactions. 

Ready to get started? Click here to view pricing, select your plan, or get in touch with the Near-Life team to learn more.

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