Using Game Mechanics In Corporate Learning
Nikola Stanisic/Shutterstock.com

Using Game Mechanics In Corporate Learning

Have you ever completed a boring eLearning course? Just the word "classroom training" makes your eyelids heavier. We learning specialists may have found ways to make learning more attractive again. Many managers consider gamification to be an appropriate way to make learning more enjoyable for employees. Volkswagen has impressively proven the potential of gamification with its "fun theory." In a social experiment, the automobile company designed a "normal" staircase next to an escalator as piano keys. The keys made different noises when passers-by stepped on them. As a result, 66% more passers-by used the normal staircase instead of the escalator.

Change your privacy settings to see the content. In order to watch this video you need to have advertising cookies enabled. You can adjust your cookie preferences here.

1. Learning Goal

Game-based learning means using a game in such a way that learners achieve one or more learning goals. You should match any use of game mechanics against these learning objectives. There are 3 types of learning objectives:

  1. Cognitive learning objectives refer to intellectual abilities. It's about remembering, understanding or applying certain things. Depending on the depth of the learning objective, simple or more complex game mechanics are suitable. For a learner who memorizes vocabulary, a so-called mini-game is sufficient. The correct, or incorrect translations of sentences are dragged and dropped into a specific area. The learner memorizes the translations through feedback and repetition. More complex skills can be taught through strategy games or simulations. At a recent event, I was allowed to try out the board game "Apples & Oranges" by Celemi. The board game imparts entrepreneurial thinking and action to the players.
  2. Psychomotor learning goals refer to motor skills. Examples of the use of gamification are flight simulators or the use of Virtual Reality in medicine for the training of surgeons. These technologies can also be applied to other areas, in industry or retail, for example. At Stiehl, for example, customers and employees can now try out Virtual Reality devices.
  3. Affective learning goals reflect a change in the attitude of learners. This won't happen overnight. Learning activities can contribute to this by being emotional and highly interactive. An example of such a game is the "Refugee Challenge" published by the Guardian in 2014. The player slips into the role of a refugee and makes decisions that produce certain results. You're welcome to try it out. In the corporate context, I recommend flanking digital learning measures with presence formats or at least online meeting formats.

2. Simplify

The example of "Monopoly" shows that game-based learning does not have to represent reality 1:1. Of course, the economy does not work as it is represented in "Monopoly." The rough concept, however, is conveyed. In the training world, we should make sure that we do not represent reality too accurately, otherwise, the benefits and costs can become unbalanced. This applies equally to business games in workshops and to digital learning.

3. Emotion

Cats are awesome! The small, house tigers usually trigger an "aww" or at least a smile. Emotion helps learners to remember the content better. This also applies to gamification. A simple score will not trigger emotions, yet. With gamification, we have the chance to create characters, stories, and images that will captivate the learners. And if you don't have a cat picture on hand at the moment, dare to get into a training measure with a dystopia (negative exaggeration). What does our company look like when the topic of leadership is completely neglected?

4. Explain

If you are developing a learning game or gamification, you should start by teaching learners the rules of the game. Super Mario Bros. 3 brilliantly creates one of the most grandiose game openings of all time, for me. Within a few seconds, the game makers tell us what the game has to offer. Business games, simulations or digital game-based learnings should also clearly refer to the game rules at the beginning.

Change your privacy settings to see the content. In order to watch this video you need to have advertising cookies enabled. You can adjust your cookie preferences here.

5. Feedback

An important element of why games work and are fun to play is feedback. While playing Super Mario, the user learns relatively quickly that it's not a good idea to jump on a green turtle—feedback is that a life is lost. This can be more complex in training situations. A surgeon who kills a patient in VR with a wrong handle should know exactly where the error was. Also, in a business game to sensitize the entrepreneurial way of thinking, hints must be given during the game so that the players have the chance to learn during the course of the game, and immediately apply what they have learned again.

6. Story

"Nothing in the world is more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop them, no enemy can defeat them." – Tyrion Lannister.

Stories are one of the most effective and efficient elements of game-based learning. A good story wins the attention of the learner, increases the fun of the game and, thus, the learning success. To tell a good story you need different elements:

  • Protagonists turn games into what they are. Did you run over boxes as Mario to save Peach? Did you accompany Zelda with his adventures? In the learning game, a strong character can be played by the learner or even act as a mentor or coach.
  • An exciting starting position makes a story interesting. Think of Batman, who became a superhero because his parents had fallen victim to the crime of Gotham City.
  • A conflict occurs. Something happens when the game is successfully or unsuccessfully played. For example, the "angry birds" in the famous mobile game want to kill pigs to recapture their eggs.

A good story runs consistently through a learning game. Frequently, learning measures tell of excellent starting situations. However, the story elements then fade away after a while, so that the content is conveyed naked, again. I dare you to consistently go through a story, it's worth it!

7. Reward

Finally, we come to what most people understand of gamification—the use of rewards. From my point of view badges, scores, levels, and co-op are the least effective game mechanics. A good story or emotion is far more promising in increasing the learning success of participants.

However, badges or dots can be cleverly used to attract attention or even addiction. Games like "Snake" or "Candy Crush" show the way. Offering "real-world rewards" is also an opportunity. If a company really stands behind the fact that certain content is being trained, why not offer a trip to New York or Bali to the one with the highest score?

Bottom Line

Gamification is more than just using badges or leaderboards. With a little creativity, you can take a training or learning format to the next level. This brings more joy and success to learning. Of course, gamification is not appropriate for every kind of learning. If employees don't feel like dealing with new content at all, game elements can even have a negative effect. Conversely, an attractive, creative design can motivate learners a lot.

Close