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It's All A Game

Continuing last week's theme of playfulness in the workplace, how can we make learning more fun?

Well, we could introduce gaming.

But what works best? Is it gamification? Or game based-learning? Or a combination of both?

Come to that, what’s the difference anyway? Let’s explore the answers.

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Image: Kelly Sikkema


First up is gamification, a buzzword becoming popular over the last decade in the world of L&D, with many organisations introducing the concept into online or app-based learning. The dictionary definition is as follows:

‘the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity, typically as an online technique to encourage engagement with a product.’

Popularised by the rise in online gaming, gamification takes advantage of mechanisms from within the games to engage users in ‘friendly’ competition. Whether collecting points, moving through levels, or receiving rewards, the concept is one of familiarity with an experience occurring in millions of households across the globe. And, just like at home, you can even battle or challenge your colleagues wherever they may be. Even the boss!

Breaking the learning journey into levels means you can define individual goals with relevant scoring and ranking to increase engagement and motivation. No one likes to be bottom of the league table.

The work environment becomes more interesting, the younger generations are better engaged in learning, and retained knowledge improves by repeating the same questions or scenarios.

Gamification is exciting, driven by the principle that if you are having fun you deliver better results.

So, what is game-based learning then?

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Image: XR Expo

Game-Based Learning

There is a subtle difference in game-based learning, as it replicates certain gaming principles, applying them to scenarios that engage learners. The motivational psychology behind this principle engages trainees with learning materials in dynamic ways. Still fun but delivered in a different way, such as escape rooms or virtual reality (VR) experiences.

Contributing to our physical and mental stimulus gamification aids the acquisition of socio-emotional skills, such as discipline, teamwork, and problem-solving. Learning is delivered through more traditional games or in a virtual environment, made easier with digital transformation and the availability of cost-effective delivery systems.

Technology is advancing at pace, with VR, artificial intelligence, and the metaverse providing exciting opportunities to learn differently. ‘Players’ become the main character in games,  immersing themselves fully into the story, reacting to varied scenarios thrown at them. Learning becomes more inclusive in this world.

Escape rooms stimulate skills such as lateral thinking and problem-solving. And with infinite settings, each experience creates new learning opportunities without fear of real-world impact. Thus, making the experience somewhat freeing, as it is just a game.

More traditional games, such as Scrabble, Uno, or Monopoly, taught us about language, numeracy, and money in our Youth. And who didn’t like trying to take over the World in RISK? But revisiting these approaches to learning can deliver successful outcomes in business too.

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Image: Tyler Nix

What Works Best?

There is this week’s million-dollar question, and with all training, it boils down to the desired outcomes. Game-based learning helps with creativity and problem-solving. Gamification improves engagement and performance in a subject area the user holds an interest.

And given that game-based learning requires the development of specific content or platforms, it may prove more costly. So, it becomes crucial to be clear on your expectations and required results, and clarity of the target audience, their age, experience, and objectives informs how you combine the two approaches to maximum effect.

How can you add more fun to your learning experiences this week?

Have a brilliant week!

Dave Rogers, Chief Business Explorer, Fuelled Fit and Fired Up

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