Gamification: How Game Mechanics Can Enhance eLearning

Designing Digitally


eLearning opportunities have quickly become one of the most popular methods for people to receive an education or expand their knowledge in a particular subject area.

Because people are now seeking more unconventional ways to learn new material, developers and industry experts are having to make adjustments to keep pace. Enter: gamification or game mechanics. Game mechanics are essentially the rules and mechanics of a game that are in place to encourage user engagement. In a sense, the mechanics of a game define how it is going to be played and what people are going to get out of it. When it comes to eLearning, the mechanics of a game are what make or break it. If the game is not well-designed with the user and end goal in mind, you are basically setting the user up for failure.

Engagement Matters

The primary purpose of gamification when it comes to eLearning, is to increase overall engagement. If you focus on developing an eLearning game that users are set up to want and like, you are bound to be successful. Understanding your target audience and designing a game that is in line with their interests and learning objectives is key, but it all ties back into the mechanics of the game.

Using game mechanics to provide clear feedback for users as well as something they can manipulate, interact with, and understand are all important factors when you are looking to increase engagement. With this, people respond well to an element of uncertainty with games. They get excited when they think they might have predicted something accurately and will more than likely want to go back and learn more.

One way to do this is by developing user-centric games. In order for gamification to be successful and interesting to users, they should be as social as possible. From allowing users to create a personal profile to having various tasks or exercises that award 'bonuses', users need to be encouraged to become willing participants. The more the mechanics of the game motivate and reward users, the more they will learn and become dedicated. Creating a leaderboard or giving users the option to post to social media platforms such as Facebook or GooglePlus are other great ways you can set yourself up for success, and have users coming back for more.

In a nutshell, game mechanics directly affect how individual engagement can be transformed through the psychological and neurological impact of eLearning games.

Games Reward the Brain

gamification designing digitallyThe mechanics of a game are crucial to the user's experience because they contribute to how much fun the user is having while they are learning. With this, games that are designed to reward and engage the brain, keeping users interested and searching for more, are what people are looking for, whether they know it or not. The tasks and elements of a successful eLearning game should always be supporting the learning process, and rewarding the user at the same time.

So how, exactly, is the brain rewarded by the various game elements? Any time you are doing something that is encouraging your brain to work and you are simultaneously thinking to yourself, "this is fun", should be considered a reward. With this we mean that "rewards" aren't always tangible. You are rewarding your brain by interacting and participating in an action that is not only giving you more knowledge, but is capturing your attention and getting the juices flowing.

We can see why gamification has become such a popular tool of learning today, as game playing encourages people to take on challenges. People thrive off of collaborating with others, which is why gamfication is so successful in eLearning scenarios. The bottom line is that game mechanics are the single most important element to whether or not a user will gain knowledge and find success with a game. By focusing on creating layers of goals and objectives with game mechanics, we are encouraging users to stick with the game and pursue knowledge in a way they may not even realize.

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