Gamification Narratives for eLearning

Using Gamification Narratives Can Foster A Learning Environment – using eLearning as an opportunity to improve almost any work-related scenario. A real-life case study.

What is narrative-based gamification? It is not a superficial layer on top of enterprise applications or eLearning systems but rather an opportunity to integrate learning into your enterprise apps.

When using gamification narratives, the use of game mechanics to encourage behavior, we are appealing to a basic human instinct: stories fascinate us, they include metaphors that we understand immediately. But that’s not all. Narratives help employees understand what they are required to do and direct employees towards self-motivated and continuous eLearning.

Below you will find a real-world example from a large US corporation. In this example we are using a car-racing narrative within a customer support call center. You may wonder if call center employees are expected to speak to customers on the phone while playing car racing on their screen (“excuse me ma’am, my car just crashed into the ditch”). You may ask yourself what is the relationship between customer support and eLearning. After all, wasn’t this post about eLearning?

The answer is two-fold: eLearning works best when integrated with work. We’ll show how this works in this case. Also, narratives are game mechanics. They aren’t games and employees don’t play them. They are just used as a means of communication of goals, objectives and learning opportunities.

In most call centers, employees are motivated through two basic “game mechanics”: leaderboards and points. Employees collect points for activities they do and there is a leaderboard that shows who is on top. Points are sometimes used for bonuses and are an important part in communicating with employees.

The use of leaderboards in this context may promote competition at the top 10% of employees and discourage all the rest. The people that aren’t at the top may find leaderboard incredibly discouraging. They know how they compare to the top performer, but not to people in their level or department.

Now, let’s looks at the first leaderboard in a car racing narrative, used by a call center rep. The difference becomes immediately clear.

Gamification Narrative Example

Gamification Narrative Example for car Racing

This is what the customer service rep sees (on her desktop or mobile, based on no-code integration with enterprise apps). Her race car has double the points of her monthly target. Yet she is still behind the vendor leader and the worldwide leader. At a glance, she seems to be doing well... Or is she?

Note some elements of the leaderboard design here. The leader is not named – their achievement is a personal benchmark the rep can use, but there are no names. Another benchmark is the worldwide leader, but note that the leaderboard first encourages her to get to the position of the leader that is closer to her (the “vendor leader”). This design easily supports the addition of more benchmarks, such as a team performance benchmark and more.

Now let’s see how the race metaphor extends to learning. Gamification and learning go hand in hand, leveraging the satisfaction derived from assignment completion (think of the profile completion bar on LinkedIn) and creating actionable learning goals. In this case, the race narrative lets the customer service rep go to the pit stop.

What do you do at real racing pit stops? Fix stuff and get better. Rather than passively observing the sales rep results, she can dig deeper and improve. Just like a pit stop lets you change tires and check the engine, perhaps get a word of advice, so does the pit stop in this narrative. This is where corrective action takes place.

Let’s see what happens at the pit stop.

Gamification Narrative Example

Gamification Narrative Example - Car Racing Pit Stop

Just like a car, the customer service rep has a dashboard, showing performance.

The pit stop’s metaphor is a dashboard. The rep is doing fine on the CSAT (customer satisfaction score), renewals and on the AHT (average handling time) metrics. The dashboard shows her what is acceptable and what is not, with the green and red colors. However, on the outbound and sales metrics she isn’t performing well. Here is where eLearning comes in. The “train” indicator offers training to remedy the problems she is having, giving her an immediate opportunity to improve and furthering the enterprise’s training goals.

Instead of being let down by her performance, she is given an immediate opportunity to get better through training. She can re-learn a subject, do a simulation, learn a subject and complete a quiz and more. At this point the rep goes to her activities page, indicating the training activities she can partake. She can also review performance reports of her metrics, giving her deeper insight about how she can improve.

Narrative-based gamification is a key tool in conveying subtle messages that require balancing several metrics, integrating learning activities and more. In this respect, think of gamification as actionable performance management that is pre-integrated with eLearning opportunities.

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