Use Intrinsic Motivators to Make Game-based Learning Fun

Designing Digitally


Motivation Taxonomy

Let's explore the intrinsic motivators that make game-based learning fun! 

Taxonomy of intrinsic motivators that make learning fun

Gamifying learning is a very popular concept. Games make learning fun. The intrinsic characteristic of gaming, like challenges, control, rewards, recognitions, and so on, make gamified learning highly desirable. If the learning game is well-designed, learners don’t even realize that they are learning. They are so engaged in the game trying to achieve their goals that they become invested in the learning with little effort.


Individual intrinsic motivators

Malone and Lepper are known for their work on the taxonomy of intrinsic motivation for serious games. The work is based on the belief that personal and interpersonal motivation in games makes them engaging. The factors involved are: challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy.

In order for an activity to have the right balance of challenge, the goals have to be clear. The performance feedback that is provided should help in enhancing the confidence of the learners. It should be able to provide immediate motivation. The learners should also feel emotionally connected to the outcome of the goal. 

Goals are necessary to build a sense of challenge. But there also has to be a sense of uncertainty that will rouse the curiosity of the learners. An element of surprise in the learning game goes a long way in keeping the learner engaged. A jazzy user interface may help in rousing curiosity. But for this to be long term, it is important to allow them to explore learning environments that enhance their productivity.

Individuals love having control of a situation. In the gaming environment, this is a huge factor on which the outcomes depend. Empowering the learner with choices that have a direct impact on the outcome, is a sure win. However, the control factor is successful only when the learner believes that he/she is capable of succeeding. So, it is wise to limit the choices available to the learner.

The most effective learning environment is the one where learners can create their own fantasies, in terms of locations, characters, situations, and so on. Fantasies ensure that the emotional needs of the learners are satiated. It allows them to experiment in a low-risk game-based learning surrounding. 

Interpersonal motivators

Malone and Lepper identified three interpersonal motivators – cooperation, competition, and recognition. 

They believed that learners will be motivated if the success of independent tasks is based on the efforts of group members. Based on the same philosophy, they believed that motivating learners with the help of badges is not as effective as motivating learners by making people with conflicting goals work on dependent tasks.

Recognition is a huge motivator for learners. In order to be recognized, their efforts have to be visible. Peers will have to celebrate the achievements. If recognition is part of a permanent artifact, like newsletters or a plaque, then the results are greater.

To be successful, game-based learning must focus on building intrinsic motivators. If designers depend on extrinsic motivators to market their learning, it will not yield long-term results. We offer innovative learning solutions based on learner-appropriate strategies. We have a solution for all your learning needs.

Get in touch with us now to learn about intrinsic motivators and game-based learning.