Utilizing Gamification in Making Training More Engaging

A strategy that is gaining increasing adoption recently – in training and in many other fields – is gamification. This concept has been broadly applied into several domains already, including websites’ design, and it is expected to change the employee training environment as we know it.

For previous posts on gamification, click here.  

What is gamification?

I will start with a a direct example to showcase you the benefits of gamification: The Go Game. The Go Game is the kind of program, which applied in various situations, fits this category perfectly. There are also many other training programs around the world which apply the principles of gaming into various learning situations. Here is why.

Gamification involves applying game design techniques (the process by which content and the rules of a game are generated in the pre-production stage) in order to solve problems and increase audience engagement in contexts that have nothing to do with games. Suppose a teacher motivates and rewards students with its super playful points and badges (symbolic rewards) for good answers given in class. In the end, they will be able to use the points they accumulated to improve their final grade, to motivate their absences to the seminar, or to choose various bibliography books that the teacher gives as a prize. It’s a simplistic example, but gamification works exactly in this way.

Because it is able to capture your attention

Gamification is a trend that has emerged from the development of technology and gaming industries. Computer games and the increasing popularity of console games have led to the creation of a global market with a value of 95 billion dollars. That’s because the people who are using joysticks now are both children and adults. A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in the U.S. show that more than half of adults play video games, and one in five does this on a daily basis.

The observation that games generate involvement, and even addictiveness, has led to some asking themselves the question: What if I use this passion and dedication to develop or solve some serious cases? What if the time, energy and creativity that the 8 million players of World of Warcraft, for example, would be used to find a solution to the lack of water which drought and poor administration caused in some countries such as Africa?

From another register, but with the same philosophy, how would it be if for the testing of airship pilots we would use simulators and games instead of the traditional tests which involve measuring the attention level and reaction speed? Or what if simulator-based games would be used to educate and train young firefighters to intervene in natural disasters?

Who and what

Of course, the challenge here is not in asking questions, but putting this concept into practice. Many industries have already taken this approach and extended it into the most varied areas. In advertising, special games which are created specifically for the launch of new products are used to connect the customers directly with them. Domino’s Pizza, for example, has created the “Domino’s Pizza Hero” game, an easy-to-use application for PCs, smartphones and tablets in which people can create their own pizza and order it directly from the game.

The European Central Bank also took an initiative of this kind when he created the “Economy” game, in which anyone can play with the monetary policies and observe the results of certain states through trial and error or understand how the inflation occurs. In the context of the global economic recession, such game comes on time.

But perhaps the best known example is Foursquare, the social network which developed services based on people’ geographic location. Every time you “check in” to a new place – in cafes, airports, hotels, or if you are more frantic, even at home – you receive points and badges to boast your popularity in your friends’ list.

The future of gamification for the employee training industry

For now, as explained by the TED speaker Jane McGonigal, the gamification trend is still in an early (but I would add bold) development stage. For instance, in this moment it is tested a transposition of its principles over a social cause, in order to resolve it with the help of gamers. If this works or not remains to be seen. However, gamification still remains a very important element in the employee training industry, one that is able to make the difference between success and failure, and be sure to get much more information on gamification examples.

Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
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