Gamification - Myths and Misunderstandings

Designing Digitally


gamification of learning

The method of applying game design techniques and mechanics to motivate learners is called gamification. Learning designers are implementing gamification in eLearning to keep the learners engaged and excited. The gamification of learning market is set to grow from $1.65 billion in 2015 to $11.10 billion by 2020. More and more companies are jumping into the gamification bandwagon. 

Despite the bright prospects, there are still some myths related to gamification. Here’s to debunking some of them.

Myth 1: Gamification only works for young learners.

Some are apprehensive to try gamification of learning technique because they feel it will not be taken seriously. Critics also feel it is for young people only. Neither statement is true. Gamification refers to applying game mechanics to learning situations. The idea is to create learning that is engaging and entertaining, as well as relevant. Gamified learning has no age restrictions. Everyone can benefit from it.

Myth 2: Gamification is only about badges and leaderboards.

Gamification of learning is not just about badges and leaderboards. It is about mastering a skill or gaining knowledge about a concept. The badges, if used, aim to engage and appreciate the learner. It is a form of feedback that encourages healthy competition amongst peers. Scores may be used to gauge how well a learner has mastered the skill. Supervisors may assign learners with high scores to mentor peers with lower scores. Designers should strive to think of creative ways to incorporate gamification, outside of traditional methods like badges and leaderboards.

Myth 3: Gamification is not relevant for corporate training.

Some corporate trainers believe gamified learning will make training appear frivolous. Certain critics argue it will put more emphasis on entertainment and competition than the serious learning. They cannot be further from the truth. The elements these skeptics think will work against them are actually beneficial. If learning is made fun and competitive, the employees will embrace it more. They will be engaged and their knowledge retention capacity will increase. Healthy competition promotes peer-to-peer coaching and social interaction.

Myth 4: Gamification only enhances extrinsic motivation.

Employers believe that gamification only focuses on extrinsic motivation. Since extrinsic motivators are not long-term, organizations are not too keen to invest in eLearning gamification. But extrinsic and intrinsic motivators are not necessarily opposites. A good gamified learning focuses on both extrinsic and intrinsic factors that lead to positive work motivation. Rewarding a learner with a badge or cash prize may keep them motivated initially. But once the novelty wears off, learners will look for intrinsic motivators. So, if the learning is designed to reward goal-orientated learning objectives, then it triggers intrinsic motivation. It is important to know the audience and their goals, and then relate those motivations to the behavior you are trying to encourage. 

Myth 5: Gamification is a short-term fix.

It is true that gamification of learning works well for specific, short-term objectives, for example training employees about a new service or a product. There are ways to move to long-term engagement, but is it necessary? The focus, here, should not be on whether it is a short-term fix or a long-term investment. The focus should be on how well it can resolve business issues effectively.

At Designing Digitally, Inc., we specialize in incorporating gamified elements to focus your learners’ attention on the content. Contact us to start developing your custom eLearning module or serious game!