I was raised on games. From table top D&D at home to "Number Munchers" in school, I learned math and statistical evaluation from games. The major difference from the experience that most people have when approaching typically banal subjects like statistics or geometry, is that I found it fun because of the context it was served in. It's all a matter of presentation. After years of being ignored as a niche pastime, now D&D is being used as a modality in classrooms. Long used, and evolving, in a K-12 context, gamification is now being deployed in workplace training and professional learning environments.
The dictionary definition of Gamification is:“The process of adding games or game like elements to something so as to encourage participation.” It's more than just an industry buzzword or trend in instructional design. Game elements appeal to our natural behaviors, such as curiosity and the pursuit of happiness, and gamification has been proven to be an effective educational strategy. Gamification is now widely used across numerous industries and is becoming an impressive industry itself. Instructional designers who are looking to implement gamification have a multitude of tutorials at their disposal, such as this helpful guide from the Association for Talent Development. Here are some examples that provide inspiration for how gamification can be utilized in eLearning.
“Connect with Haji Kamal” by Kinection
This master example of gamification leads learners to assume the persona of a US Army sergeant in Afghanistan, who must successfully overcome cultural differences and make a good impression on a local leader. Learners are immediately presented with their goal, then they are challenged to take action to meet that goal as they see fit. The course includes complex branching scenarios, where learners will encounter different challenges and have different results based on the choices they make. Not all learners will end in success, which means learners are given real-life consequences based on their real-life choices. The course is engaging enough that learners are likely to feel inspired to repeat it whether they pass on their first attempt or not, which is a clear demonstration of the power of this gameplay experience.
“Misadventures in Money Management” created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
This course teaches the basics of personal finance through a fun, interactive game that allows learners to choose their own avatars then receive information through a series of videos, comics, and real-life scenarios. The personalization and player control are highly effective gamification elements that allow learners to feel a sense of control over the outcome, all while absorbing the content along the way. The mixed use of media keeps the presentation engaging, along with an ever-changing bank account balance that serves as a scorecard to assess how well learners are mastering the content and progressing through the course.
“Broken Coworker” by Elearner Engaged
Mandatory compliance training is seldom a favorite topic for designers or for learners, but engaging delivery methods such as this course can transform traditionally dry topics into interesting and effective courses. In this example, learners receive immediate feedback as they progress through the course which allows them to monitor their own progress. Gamification is a powerful delivery method here, as learners must guide the main character through a series of challenges against the “broken coworker” who acts inappropriately at every opportunity. Success is determined by resolving each of the conflicts without forcing any of the characters to lose their jobs, and the storytelling narrative is sure to remind learners of issues they have experienced on the job themselves. Making the content relevant and relatable to learners ensures they will not be bored by this experience.
Educational Game About the Cretaceous Era by Camille Larepe
The previous examples listed here depicted how games don’t have to be just for children; however, this particular game was designed for children. Although the entire game is not available publicly, the video Camille Larepe provides on her site shows game highlights, and she also describes the design process she followed to create this educational game. As with any instructional design project, she began with a thorough needs analysis to determine her learners’ needs. Equipped with clearly defined goals and objectives, she then mapped out several paths for how learners could progress through the game to learn the content. Camille’s approach models iterative instructional design, as well as the importance of incorporating learners’ reviews and feedback throughout the design process.
Quiz Game Show Template by Nicole Legault
This classic game show template is given fresh life with eLearning interactivity and sound effects. Familiar games such as this require little to no learning curve from the learner with regards to gameplay, which allows both the learner and the designer to focus on the content itself and not on how to navigate the game. This game works well as a content review or as an assessment and could function within a larger course or could be published as a stand-alone item.