Spending time playing games can feel counterintuitive, but in the right situation, investing 20 minutes playing a grown-up game or simulation can reveal bad habits, demonstrate consequences and motivate change in one fell swoop. Read our 5 tips for getting elearning gamification right.
Why gamification fails
Elearning gamification has been around for several years now, and it often divides the crowd. Is it an innovative game-changer (pardon the pun!), or a gimmick that will soon fall by the wayside?
The truth is somewhere in the middle. Gamification has great potential when used with the right content and audience, but when it feels like a gimmick, it fails. Learners don’t want boring elearning, but they don’t want childish games either. The sweet spot is a simulation that’s relevant and challenging.
So, how do you get there? Check out our five elearning gamification best practices:
#1: Set a goal
The best games have goals. Whether you’re playing Clue with your family guessing whodunnit, competing to score goals on Fifa or trying to fill in every Sudoku box on your morning commute – there’s something you’re striving for. Without a goal, a game can feel a bit pointless.
So, for your gamified elearning, avoid adding stars and points in the hope of making a quiz “fun” or “gamey,” and instead create a goal to motivate your learners. Oh, and try to do it within the first all-important 7 seconds.
The clearer the link between the goal of the game and a goal learners are trying to reach in real life, the more seriously they’re likely to take it. Our first-person sales simulation is aimed at new salespeople. It forces the learner into the driver’s seat, taking on the role of Business Development Executive who’s trying to meet their target with the final three leads of the day. It’s relevant, realistic and relatable.
#2: Make your gamified elearning immersive
You’ve motivated your learners (or players!) – now you need to maintain engagement. Using video or audio to tell your story and increase the drama is a great way of keeping people glued to your screen. Our Sales Simulation is based around phone calls, so it’s perfect for a quick and inexpensive audio-led experience.
Emotive subject areas like people management, leadership or wellness can lend themselves to the power of film. An example of a powerful video-led simulation is coming soon to our showcase page.
If audio and video are out of your reach, don’t panic. You can tell your story effectively with words and images alone. The key is to put your story first and not cram too much “traditional learning” in there. Pose challenging questions, get people to make fast decisions and dish out rewards and punishments, but let people learn through these consequences rather than lengthy written feedback.
#3: Provoke anxiety…
… but not too much. To feel invested, learners need to feel that there’s something at stake. If your simulation is too easy, they’ll zone out; if it’s too hard, they’ll give up. Prototype and test until your simulation induces the perfect amount of anxiety that keeps people hooked and motivated to win.
We used Elucidat’s sophisticated countdown timers and assessment functionality to create a weighted “killer question” that learners only have 15 seconds to answer. Tricks like this help increase the pressure and keep learners in the moment.
#4: Build in consequences
You might be thinking, “This all sounds great, but where’s the learning?” Well, when it comes to elearning gamification, it’s all in the consequences. Rather than telling people what to do, a grown-up game rewards their good decisions and shows the consequences of their bad decisions, trusting learners to draw their own conclusions. It’s real and practical, rather than abstract and theoretical.
Elucidat makes it easy to award points and badges throughout a simulation, and it can also use rules to trigger specific consequences based on specific learner pathways.
#5: Embrace repetition
Despite the common fear that repetition is boring, repetition is actually a common feature in gameplay. You frequently find yourself facing the same problems, using the same weapons or having to try again after a failed mission.
Repetition is a friend to learning, too – you’re more likely to remember something you did (or couldn’t do!) multiple times, rather than just doing it once. So, don’t be afraid to add fail points to your game or simulation, where players are kicked out and have to start again. It’s likely to aid their learning experience, and Elucidat makes it easy for you with rules and branching. It’s a win-win!
We’ve put these elearning gamification tips into practice in this sales training simulation – take a look.
So, what do you think? Could a simulation work for your audience? Whether you’re dipping your toes in the water for the first time or you’re a seasoned simulator, remember that if you get the game mechanics right, the fun user experience will take care of itself.
Need a tool for developing grown up games? Try Elucidat for free.