How Gamification Can Improve Learner Engagement

Designing Digitally


If you’re looking to create any kind of online training, you undoubtedly will encounter the term “gamification” at some point. Gamification, or the process of using elements of game design to enhance non-game content and make it more interesting for learners, is one of the great tools for creating engaging content. Gaming elements are appealing because they encourage learners to engage in a specific challenge in which a feedback system will lead to a quantifiable and measurable outcome, allowing instructors to determine whether or not their audience is achieving the desired results. So, how exactly does gamification promote learner engagement?

Why It Works

Traditional training methods don’t always give learners many options for interacting with the content. Usually, they can simply read the material and answer questions about it, or if they’re lucky they might be able to listen to a narrator read it to them. These are both passive methods of learning that aren’t able to effectively grab a learner’s interest, ultimately leading to less knowledge retention.

Gamification alleviates this by offering rewards and incentives within the training itself. By including virtual reward systems such as achievements, points, or badges, gamification enables learner to actively engage in their training rather than relying on them to passively absorb it. But gamification isn’t limited to basic reward systems. Depending on the training, learners may also encounter more familiar gaming elements such as quests, puzzles, or other challenges that will help them get a better understanding for the material than they would have received from just reading or listening to it in a more traditional format. The more they can interact with the content, the more likely they are to not only remember critical information but also apply it properly in real life situations.


Virtual reward systems, levels, badges, leaderboards, and scoreboards are all different methods that can be used to both encourage learners to engage with the material and give them the opportunity to compare their performances with their peers. Sometimes a little friendly competition can help to spur interest in learning more. For example, learners can view the leaderboard, see where they fall in comparison to others, and make a conscious decision to try harder, soak up more information, and do whatever else may be necessary to surpass other learners. As they return to the material to improve their scores or gain more achievements, they receive the additional benefit of reinforcing their training, which they might otherwise have forgotten in a less interactive context.

The Bottom Line

Gamification works because it encourages learners to actively interact with their training and provides a platform for competition. Game elements help make learning both meaningful and satisfying for learners. By incorporating gamification, developers and trainers can use their creativity to achieve active audience participation. Because the game-based mechanics and elements (such as scoreboards and leaderboards) give instant feedback, we are able to adjust the learning as needed to keep users engaged and wanting to learn. Gamification is an essential addition if you’re looking to convert disconnected and bored learners into engaged and willing participants.

To learn more from our gamification experts, and how your company can utilize gamification in your training, contact us today!