27 July 2018

The Top 5 Benefits of Gamification in Learning

Gamification / Learner Engagement
benefits of gamification


Declan Mulkeen

Gamification is more than just a buzzword. Far from child’s play, HR and L&D professionals should not underestimate the benefits of gamification in corporate training. Infusing gameplay and leveraging competitiveness not only makes your corporate training more dynamic it can also significantly increase learner engagement too.

Why does gamification motivate learners?

Why would 22 people assemble on a muddy, cold field on a rainy day in February to kick a ball around? Football is one of the world’s greatest past-times and there are a couple of key reasons. Firstly, it is accessible to almost anyone through its simplicity, and, secondly, it has at its heart, a great motivator: the desire to win.

Take away that goal—excuse the pun—and the game would become instantly redundant. Football, rugby, hockey, baseball, and any other competitive activity rely on the competitive spirit to attract a mass following.

Demystifying the Modern Learner
How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning
Demystifying the Modern Learner
How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning

Now, take this ‘motivating factor’, apply it to learning, and the result is ‘gamification’. A simple concept that builds learner engagement, helps to change perceptions and attitudes and develops skills through a practical, applied, and thoroughly hands-on approach to learning.

Although the complete list is much longer, we’ve compiled the five most compelling benefits of gamification.

1.  Makes learning fun and interactive

Regardless of your audience or subject matter, the gamification of learning can help you to create exciting, educational, and entertaining content. It’s not meant to turn work into a game, but it does play on the psychology that drives human engagement.

We’ve all experienced the drive to compete, improve, and outperform others, and even ourselves.

The rewards can be very satisfying and intensely motivating.

One of the key benefits of gamification is that it makes learning informative and exciting, mainly thanks to its interactivity. Role-play and competitive elements add an immersive angle, which, if set up well, can quite simply make learning fun.

2.  Creates an addiction to learning

If you had to define the single most important aim of learning, it must surely be to instill new knowledge in your learners. But how useful is that knowledge if it can’t be retained?

Another, rather surprising, benefit of gamification in learning is the natural high it can give us, and the impact that ‘high’ has on the retention of knowledge. When our brain wants to reward us, it releases dopamine into our bodies, so when we win a game or achieve something important to us, we feel good.

Further reading

Learning about new things is, for many, a rewarding experience which causes dopamine release, and the rather fortuitous outcome of that natural drug ‘fix’ is that the increase in dopamine levels helps us retain that new information.

3.  Gives learners the opportunity to see real-world applications

The third benefit of gamification is all about getting your hands ‘dirty’. Learning on the job can be a very effective way of cementing skills by applying them to practical scenarios.

The gamification of learning allows learners to see the real-world applications and benefits of the subject matter. They are able to get a first-hand look at how their choices within the game result in consequences or rewards.

4.  Offers real-time feedback

Imagine if we only took stock of how well we are doing in life once a year. Work, relationships, in fact, anything we did regularly, might suffer from a lack of self-review.

It’s a little odd that many organizations only conduct performance reviews on an annual basis, instead of more regularly, or even ongoing performance reviews.

The gamification of learning allows employees to work towards real-time, measurable, meaningful targets, and get upper-level feedback as those targets are achieved.

After all, you’re never going to improve if you can’t find out what you need to do better or find out how to upskill.

5.  Gamification enhances the learning experience

The truth is that fitting all the top benefits of Gamification into a ‘Top 5’ list is impossible, so, to use a word often associated with games, we’re going to ‘cheat’ and give you a list within a list. Here are five more benefits of gamification in learning.

More engagement with content

Gamification in e-learning offers the opportunity for learners to engage with content in an effective, informal learning environment. If learners get excited about learning, they are more likely to retain information.

More fun, efficient learning

Gamification makes learning fun and so learners are far more likely to engage with an enjoyable learning program than a boring one.

Competition = motivation

Many people are motivated by competition. Gamification provides opportunities for competition with others for high scores, rewards and leader-board rankings.

More cooperation

Learners in gamified learning programs can work towards group goals by cooperating with a team within a competitive environment. This encourages the sharing of ideas, debate, critical thinking and strategic thought processes.

Further reading

Points mean prizes

One of the ‘carrots’ used to encourage learner engagement in gamification is the use of leaderboards, badges and other gamified indicators of achievement.

All of these rewards feed the natural human desire for status.

Endless benefits?

If you’ve ever watched an electronic gamer at work, then you will have seen the addictive properties of being immersed in a virtual world, perusing goals and being given virtual rewards.

In many console games, the worlds to be explored are ‘open’ and almost boundless.

Gamification also unlocks the imagination-fuelled world that game elements can bring to learning. Our imaginations, properly used, can take us on infinite journeys of discovery, and the possibilities for introducing gamified elements into your corporate learning programmes are immense.

Since gamification increases learners’ engagement, awareness, and productivity, it also improves your organization’s performance. Finally, we can say, with conviction, that playing really is good for business.

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