Gamification of learning has been a successful trend in the digital learning space since last few years. It has set the standard for interactivity and engagement in learning by use of thought-through game mechanics and powerful yet simple game designs, which connect instantly with the learners and more so in the content gamification space.
Most of the organizations have experimented with gamification of learning in some way or the other (content or structured gamification or game based learning, game templates etc) and now are more receptive to gamification of training and how to make it more effective.
As a result, new trends have emerged and the way gamification is used in learning has also changed. As an e-learning company, who is at the forefront of gamification of corporate learning, we identify and predict certain trends, that we definitely expect to see in this year- 2021.
1.Gamification design matures for higher form of learning
Previously, game elements such as leaderboards and badges were added as external game mechanics to add a dash of gamification to e-learning modules to help motivate learners to learn well.
Then as the market started demanding something better and more, e-learning companies started adding these game mechanics within the e-learning modules like points being carried forward from one sub topic to another of a gamified e-learning and then being displayed at the end of the learning content.
Now, learners especially the millennials want even more from their learning experiences instead of just points, ranks, badges and a theme. They want a more enhanced and immersive learning experience. In other words, gamification of training needs to have more vivid visuals and a more game like feel. It needs to be effective and impactful.
As a learning gamification design company, we often come across requests from our prospective clients “we want a game like Temple Run”. For those who are not so familiar with Temple Run, it is an endless running game, was launched in 2011 and is known to have more than 1 billion downloads since then. It’s popularity of course has been on a downtrend since last couple of years as more games continue to be developed and top the popularity charts, but it still continues to be a benchmark in terms of game play and game design. Another popular request which we receive is for gamification like PUBG. PUBG is a battle game which was launched in 2017 by a South Korean company and continues to be popular.
If I have to actually analyse what makes Temple Run so popular it is 1) Game design principle of simple to play yet hard to master (requires a lot of practice), which puts the players in a “flow”. This terminology was coined by the psychologist Mihaly, which puts the players in a state of energized focus and immersion. The flow of Temple Run also includes the right amount of challenges interspersed in the gameplay and 2) Top camera angle 3d visuals, which give the endless feel of running and being immersed in the environment. Is this not the right game design for mastering a higher form of learning which requires a lot of energized focus and practice like communication, negotiations, decision making, critical thinking as well as technical skills? It definitely seems to be the case.
Like Temple Run PUBG has its unique style of online multiplayer design which challenges the learner with each action and also promotes competition.
In our opinion, content gamification with the right game flow, game play and powerful visuals 2d or 3d would be the right combination for skill based learning that requires practice leading to mastery and is going to be a strong trend for 2020. While such an immersive game play involves a huge development cost, a smart design and usage of rapid authoring tools can bring a feel similar to an immersive learning experience, but when designed and deployed by experienced e-learning gamification companies.
2.Gamification shifts to mobile apps
Multigenerational (millennials, Gen Z) mobile workforce, lower attention spans, increasing mobile penetration, availability of internet bandwidth……and many more such factors are driving the usage of mobile apps. So gamification shifting to mobile apps is the natural progression as it offers better engagement to learners. Whether it is an app like Duolingo for language learning or a Byju’s app for K-12 learning, more and more gamification is being used in mobile apps meant for learning. However most of these gamification mechanics are currently restricted to leaderboards or virtual coins etc.
Adding gamification to mobile apps for learning will definitely be an effective engagement strategy but as mentioned in the above point, gamification design for learning apps will have to be more immersive and connected to the learners’ requirements. This is where my next trend of immersive gamification comes.
3.Immersive gamification for learning and training
It’s a no brainer that gamification using Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR) is a potent combination, which makes learning recallable, engaging and immediately applicable to the job role.
While gamification is more a function of competition and collaboration, AR and VR leverages the 360 degree space to extend reality and provide an unparalleled learning experience. When both gamification and AR/VR are combined together for the purpose of learning, gamification ensures an emotional connect with the learner and AR/VR leads to a visual sensory appeal, thus engaging with the learner at the highest level.This strategy definitely hooks and reels in employees to train, making them both excited and motivated to make the most out of the experience.
This is particularly useful in designing training for industries, which are either mundane ( BPOs, back offices, healthcare, insurance) or risky like hazardous chemicals, waste, oil and gas etc.
4. ROI on gamification of learning- a significant parameter
The famous management concept “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage or improve it” is all the more applicable to gamification of learning. One because the outcome expected or the expectations of outcome from gamification itself is very high and secondly because it requires significant investment by an organization both in terms of cost and time. The business outcomes expected out of gamification of learning could be improved productivity, higher sales, higher customer retention, repeat business, etc.
For measuring the ROI of gamification of learning, clear quantifiable business output has to be defined and measured. Structured gamification platforms for learning, which can be integrated with CRM software/ERP software can be another way to measure the ROI. Of course this approach requires significant investment and moreover not many such platforms exist.
Another way to accomplish this is by tracking actionable information around meaningful data like for a pharma sales rep who has undergone an e-learning gamification on ‘how to sell better to doctors’ could be around area wise sales numbers or increased appointments with doctors/ leads etc. You can also measure how effective your gamification campaign is based on its application. Similarly ROI on gamification of learning around anti bribery can be measured by increase or decrease in anti bribery issues within the company. As a result, it’s a breeze to demonstrate the ROI and longevity of gamification within an organization.
This trend of measuring gamification results is not entirely new. As the trend heats up, metrics like time, quality, and engagement will become increasingly easy to quantify.
With newer and emerging technologies supporting gamification of training, increased willingness by companies to invest in gamification and plenty of data on what employees want from their training, it’s exciting to see how gamification has progressed and what’s in store to come.
Are there any other gamified learning trends that you think could also emerge this year?
Do leave your thoughts in the comments below.