What's Your Avatar In Gamified eLearning?

Summary: Planning and choosing the right avatar in gamified eLearning programs has the potential to induce a high emotional attachment between the learner and the gamified intervention, thereby tremendously enhancing the level of engagement.

Choosing The Right Avatar In Gamified eLearning

While avatars help individuals project their alter-egos or boost their esteem, they play a very critical role in enhancing learner engagement in gamified eLearning interventions. Let’s take a quick look at how you can make the right choice of an avatar in gamified eLearning to get your learners charged-up with your next gamified learning module.

First, Second, Or Third Person?

As the avatar represents a person in a gamified eLearning intervention, it is important to position the “person” appropriately.

For example:

  • If the avatar is representing the learner and she is controlling the actions on her own behalf, then the avatar is in the first person.
  • If an avatar appears as a coach, mentor, or helper who is interacting with the learner, then it is in the second person perspective.
  • If there is an avatar in a theme-based gamified eLearning module which has a completely different personality and is working under instructions from the learner, then it is in the third person perspective.

The choice of the avatar “person” is based on the learner profile, learning content, and the desired learning outcome in addition to other critical parameters.


Once you have decided the “person” of the avatar, the next critical element is to decide on how you wish the user to control its appearance.

A quick point here is – the more the learner gets to customize the avatar, the more she relates to it.

If the learning intervention demands and budget permits, you can have the option for the learner to create an avatar by putting together various pieces together. These could range from choosing basic shapes, body parts, styles, color palette, accessories, weapons, etc. A word of caution here is that while this option provides complete freedom to the learner to create her own avatar, it may however divert the attention of the learner and may even take up too much time in comparison to the actual learning.

A more cost-effective and quick design approach is to have certain standard designs of avatars which the learner “decorates” with a dress, hat, equipment, etc. This approach is quicker, gets good connect with the learner, and is not very heavy on the budget too.

Another option is to have a set of “predefined” avatars a learner can choose from. This is best used when you want the learner to associate with a specific visual entity from a selection only.

The last option, which is not actually an option, is to assign a default “avatar” to the learner.

Real Or Virtual

Today, when the lines between real and virtual world are fast diminishing, it is important to decide how your avatars should look. Real images of people or virtual animated characters. Both have their own advantages, but, as I said earlier, this too depends on the learner profile and learning requirement.

Sometimes having the option for the learner to upload her own photograph and add features to it from a predefined set of graphics can work wonders in helping the learner project her desired personality, especially in the corporate learning scenario.

Full, Half, Or Face Only

The space for an avatar on the computer screen is always limited, and when it comes to a mobile device, it's furthermore constrained.

For an avatar to be effective, its specific features that kindle the emotions need to be clearly visible to the learner on all devices.

If the avatar has been designed to portray a certain action orientation, carries weapons, equipment, or wears a relevant costume, the entire body of the avatar that needs to be presented and detailing of facial features can be moderate.

On the contrary, if the facial expression of the avatar is being used to denote a specific emotion, the face should cover about 70% of the space, as showing the entire body will shift the focus from it.

Further, if the avatar is required to show a certain emotion on the face coupled with a sense of achievement like a badge, medal, or shield, a carefully crafted upper half showing the emotion and the object of pride can be depicted effectively.

With these perspectives, you can easily define the right avatars for your gamified eLearning solutions. Once defined, you can use some good graphic design skills to bring them to life and kindle the right emotions in the learners’ minds.