Elearning Providers Use Game Mechanics to Provide Motivation

Designing Digitally


Game-Based Training eLearning Provider

Game mechanics are defined as, “constructs of rules or methods designed for interaction with the game state, thus providing gameplay.” While all games use some type of mechanics, styles and theories vary as to their significance to the game.

In simpler terms, game mechanics are “the rules and procedures that guide the player and the game’s response to the player’s moves or actions.” The game designer defines how the game will work for the people who play it.

Function of game mechanics

As game-based learning changes and evolves, elearning providers have to keep up with the latest innovations in their field. While gamification doesn’t require a designer to go as deeply into the game mechanics as a different type of game designer would have to do, there are still core mechanics at work.

Game mechanics are what brings fun into a game. They are also the conduit for learning. The mechanics should never be complicated enough that they take away from the learning experience. For example, if a game is too difficult and has too much extraneous action going on, the objective is lost and the player can become confused, frustrated, and eventually give up.


As elearning providers strive to develop learning games that are effective, they must consider motivation as it’s the key to keeping learners engaged. It’s wise to use a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators in order to reach as many learning styles and personalities as possible. Some learners thrive on internal rewards, while others are very motivated by external rewards. While intrinsic rewards lead to a more comprehensive, lasting level of knowledge attainment, extrinsic rewards are still valuable. 

Here are some examples of motivators that will enhance the educational value of elearning activities:

  • Autonomy. Giving learners choices provides a feeling of independence and self-determination. Taking ownership of their own learning increases the chances that the information they are presented with is retained.
  • Mastery. As players work through levels and challenges, they are becoming proficient in the content area. They are driven to achieve mastery.
  • Ranking. Leaderboards and achievements give a learner a sense of where they rank among their coworkers. This can motivate them to work harder to move up in the rankings, or to maintain their position.
  • Social connections. Don’t underestimate the power of cooperation. Most people like to be a part of a team. The cooperative nature of gamification is a big positive for many.
  • Rewards. Components like badges, points, and achievements are extrinsic motivators that can keep learners engaged and striving to work hard.
  • Avoidance. Not all forms of motivation are based on positive reinforcement. Loss of points, a lowered rank, and having to start the game over, are all consequences players would want to avoid, pushing them to try harder.
  • Entertainment. There is no doubt that fun is a significant motivator. When elearning providers can integrate fun into the learning process, it’s a win-win situation.

Keeping these elements of a well-developed learning game in mind ensures that elearning providers are designing experiences that effectively change the workplace, and how employees are educated for the better.