From the past couple of years, there is increased adoption of games, game-based learning and gamification as a part of the corporate learning strategy. Irrespective of the learner generations, games are enjoyed by learners or players of all ages. Thanks to the technological advancements and the proliferation of mobile devices, games are now mostly consumed through smartphones, tablets, and mobiles etc.

So what makes the game a game?

The first dice was rolled almost 3000 years ago. History tells us that games and humans have a very long association. But today when the technology has evolved and developed to greater heights, games are not just for the purpose of entertainments alone. Instead, games are also used as a learning strategy or learning techniques to train learners effectively.B ut what makes the game a game?

To make a game a game, there are many factors or elements that play a big role like –

•Clear objectives and goals
•Points and scores
•User interactions
•Rules of the game
Engaging storyline
•Gameplay
.
Thus, in short, it’s the game mechanics that make the game a game. The powerful game mechanics are the most important elements that give the characteristics of a game and breathes life into it.

What are game mechanics?
Game mechanics are constructs of rules or methods designed for interaction with the game state, thus providing the gameplay.
Here in this blog let’s see the 5 competitive game mechanics or elements of games that can be added to an e-learning course.

1.Leaderboards

Leaderboards are powerful game mechanics that lists down the learners or users according to a predetermined category or set of rules. It taps into the competitive spirit of the players and induces the element of competition that makes the players desirous of achieving higher positions in the leaderboard and revisiting the learning content in the process.

How to use leaderboards to engage learners?

1.1. Provide clear instructions for how to rank up

It’s very important to make the learners aware of how the leaderboard is working and what are the criteria that should be satisfied to rank up in the leaderboard. Like are you ranking the leaderboards by rewards earned or is it the learner progress that determines the position etc. Make sure that employees or learners are informed about the criteria in advance so that they can plan their game strategy accordingly.

1.2 Combining leaderboards with other game mechanics

The modern-day leaderboards allow the organisation to combine with other game mechanics in e-learning to enhance the learner engagement. For example, the organisation can include badges that can be attached to the leaderboard positions. Or likewise the organisations can categorise the leaderboard into different sets like beginners, intermediate and experts, etc. depending upon how they are progressing through the learning path of the number of attempts they have made to complete the module.

1.3 Make the leaderboards easily visible

The objective of including leaderboard is to induce competition among the learners. Hence, the leaderboards should be made clearly visible and accessible to all the learners. When the learners constantly view the leaderboard, they are energized to climb higher positions in the leaderboard vis a vis their peer learners.

1.4 Make the leaderboards social

The modern LMS allow easy integration of leaderboards and one-click sharing of the scores on different social media platforms like Facebook or on the internal portals of the organisation etc. This brings in further engagement as the learners feel recognized when sharing it on social media.
   
2.Badges

Badges are the commonly used game elements or game mechanics in e-learning. Over the years, badges still enjoy great popularity with organisations as they give a sense of satisfaction and achievement to the learners. The learners are awarded badges as they complete the tasks, set milestones etc. One of the biggest advantages of using badges are – they can be easily customised to any preferred designs and can be displayed easily on any social media platforms.

How to effectively use badges  in e-learning?

2.1 While designing or implementing  the badges for e-learning, make sure that they have the potential to make the learners crave for it. Ensure that the badges are relevant to the learning topic and the possession of it can delight and motivate the learners.

2.2 I recommend to make some badges exclusive and scarce i.e the learners gain the possession of these badges only when they achieve a specific task or completing a milestone etc. By making these badges difficult to achieve, the desire and motivation to own them will be high. This can further make it more engaging and interactive.

3.Challenges

Challenges are part and parcel of the human life and we enjoy the moment of winning and  overcoming these challenges. Organizations can leverage on this human nature by carefully challenging the learners in e-learning wit set milestones, tasks etc.

How to effectively include challenges in e-learning?

In e-learning, there are various ways to challenge the learners. Here are some popular handpicked ways:

3.1 While including challenges in an e-learning course, ensure that they are achievable. Challenges that are too tough can derail the learning experience as the learners might feel less motivated to try after repeated failures.

3.2 Enable different levels in the e-learning with increasing level of complexities and challenges. This can motivate the learner to climb up progressing through different challenges and achieving the set milestones.

3.3 Beat the clock challenge in e-learning- by including a timer, the organisation can bring in the sense of urgency among the learners to complete the task before the countdown ends. This can challenge the learners to finish the task within a given time frame.  

4.Progress bars

Progress bars  another form of game mechanics have always appealed to the player’s sense of completion. Progress bars indicate how much a learner has progressed through the module. It’s always important for the learner to understand how far the learner is from achieving the goal or completing the module.

How to effectively use progress bars in e-learning?

4.1. Progress bars can be effectively used to  “nudge” the learner to

•Play faster
•Increase inquisitiveness
•Enhance competition and even
•Enhance collaboration

5.Risk

In games, there is always the element of risk involved . For example, the character may fail in achieving the tasks and it can lead to losing out on the points scored or invites other penalties

How to effectively use the  element of risks in e-learning ?

5.1. Learners become more careful and the attention span increases when there is a fear of losing the points, badges and leaderboard positions, etc. Thus, creating the element of risks in e-learning can engage the audience and result in increasing attention span as the learner will be more careful now.
These are 5 essential elements of games that can be added in an E-learning course. Feel free to share your recommendations.