Elearning Design vs. Gamification

Designing Digitally


eLearning vs Gamification

The terms “gamification” and “game-based elearning” are often used interchangeably. The problem with this is that they aren’t the same. They have distinct differences and the people who design them generally come from differing backgrounds and viewpoints.

One of the significant aspects elearning designers and gamification designers have in common is the benefit their products provide to the learner and to the company that utilizes either one. While they’re different, the gamification programs and gaming experiences they create are both going a long way to educate employees in new and dynamic ways.

The differences

Let’s begin by taking a look at what the distinctions are between gamification and game designers.

  • Creation and purpose. Elearning designers who design games are focused on one activity. A game is a stand-alone entity, not dependent on any other activity to give it meaning or context. Gamification is a system that covers multiple activities. It’s a way of doing things.

  • The difference in narrative. Designers of games can allow themselves to get wrapped up in the story. They create worlds that are largely of their own choosing. The idea of gamification is very tied to the brand and the specific needs of the corporation. For example, an elearning game designer, while still trying to teach a specific content, can do so via the use of whatever narrative he wants, from wizards to witches and dragons. Those story elements can all still be used to teach or get across a specific point. Gamification, as it is using game principles but isn’t game-based, will not rely on a story to teach.

Elearning design: gamification vs. game-based

Creation, purpose, and narrative are the main differences between the designers’ intent with gamification and game-based learning, but what about the actual activities themselves?

Let’s look at the differences:

  • Goals. Game-based learning activities have specific learning objectives while gamification may be as simple as a group of tasks with a reward attached. A game will focus on one or two main concepts. Gamification is woven comprehensively throughout all the content.  

  • Cost. Games can be more expensive to create. Gamification is generally less costly and simpler. As a result, gamification is easier to implement in a corporate training environment.

  • Story elements. In a game, the content to be learned is shaped to fit into the game. With gamification, the features of a game are added to the content. The story is the basis of the game.  

  • Importance of reward. Intrinsic rewards are the motivation for game-based learning experiences. Gamification involves a more concrete reward system and may or may not be intrinsically motivating.

Which one is best?

The answer to that question isn’t cut and dried. Elearning designers and gamification system creators both make products that successfully improve the preparedness of employees to do their jobs well. Gamification is more versatile, but the learning objectives have to be kept in sight at all times so that they aren’t lost. On the other hand, game-based learning’s singular focus can be a good indicator of how effective a total gamification system could be.

Designing Digitally Inc. is committed to determining the best application tool for your organization to meet your needs and achieve your strategic goals.