How to use gamification in 2019 : what works and what doesn’t?

Using gamification in 2019 – everything you need to know

Gamification was set to take the world by storm but is it just a fad? Or is the best yet to come?

Many bold predictions from the influential 2011 Gartner Hype Cycle report about the Gamification Industry did not materialise. Let’s take a look at where things stand in heading into 2019.

According to Gartner, gamification is the use of game mechanics to drive engagement in non-game business scenarios and to change behaviours in a target audience to achieve business outcomes.

The leading research company goes on to say that many types of games include game mechanics such as points, challenges, leaderboards, rules, and incentives that make game-play enjoyable.

However, this further outline is somewhat incomplete and, consequently, misleading for those businesses looking into adopting a gamified approach. And perhaps detrimental for those learning providers who have already had a blind stab and failed miserably.

In terms of design, interactive video engines, role-play simulations, blockchain, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality are increasingly popular amongst learning styles.

We are all familiar with the feeling of being ‘immersed’ when we play games of any format so why should a gamified experience offer any less? Yet, these immersive technologies are barely referenced under the umbrella of game mechanics nor gamification design.

The future of gamification

Although, based on past definitions, gamification may have not yet reached its full potential. You could say that the approach is going through a transformation period.

And, to really gain the full benefit that gamification offers and move the industry forward, gamification practitioners must learn how to be more data-conscious, learner-centric, and multi-skilled.

The days of having one job are far behind us. Millennial’s are now accustomed to the idea of working three or four different career roles. It’s very much the same for those working in gamification and elearning as this LinkedIn Group for gamification and elearning affiliates suggests.

The future of gamification means you must become data analysts and data scientists.

Gamification approaches will need to be built on data-backed activity and in-depth analytics tracking. People are starting to realise that you simply cannot change a behaviour you can’t measure.

Look at Snapchat – streaks, ranking, and rewards as a result of captured data. Or when we do our weekly grocery shop – vouchers, reductions, loyalty apps. Again, fuelled by consumer data.

We don’t even realise that gamification is subsumed into every aspect of design in order to steadily engage and encourage the desired behaviour.

But understanding data is not enough; would-be learning architects also need to be behavioural scientists and game designers. This is emphasised by a recent white paper produced by Lithium. The paper goes on to emphasise just how important big data is, as is an approach that embraces cognitive science.

The 2018 International Conference on elearning in the Workplace saw Kai Erenli, a lawyer, law professor, and game designer, share his insights on best practices in gamification.

In his opinion, we should “stop building skinner boxes” because when we do this, we are “fostering addictive behaviour but not learning.”

He goes on to say that we should move way from bolting on gimmicks like badges and leaderboards. And instead tailor the game experience to suitably reflect and engage the target audience in order to help meet the learning objectives.

And last but not least, he points out that gamification includes immersive technologies such as augmented reality, interactive video and virtual reality and they have endless applications if done correctly. 

Although Erenli admits this may take time to be fully adopted, it is already happening.

How should I be doing gamification?

Identify your learning objectives. This could be done through a workshop in which the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and learning teams get together to discuss how best the learning practice can be met through immersive technologies and game mechanics.

Identify which immersive technologies and game mechanics will work best in order to attain your learning objectives and at the same time, reflect your target audience.

This will require extensive research. It may be best to get in touch or research an array of companies offering these ‘immersive technology’ services.

These companies should be able to offer a consultancy service, creative production and technical support to discuss all of your requirements.

It’s important to know whether you have the essential systems in place to measure all the behaviours you want to gamify. And remember, there is little value in trying to gamify learning that you can’t accurately measure.

Once your goals are clear the creative game design teams can get to work. For example, if your gamification approach involves narrative or scenario learning, using immersive technologies, it’s advisable to host a story workshop with subject matter experts, learning managers, technical teams, and the creatives involved.

3 Effective examples of gamification

1. VR Firefighter Training

In an US facility labelled STARS, police officers are being thrown into simulations that they would encounter in the field. This includes domestic violence incidents to active shooter scenarios.

The simulator is said to have five screens, allowing trainees to be immersed in an almost 360-degree view of the situation. The training room unfolds via branching scenarios based on the actions on the trainee.

To further enhance the authenticity, learners are equipped with an array of lifelike devices that recoil and weigh the same as an authentic firearm would. 

A representative said that the key goal is to allow officers to have that split-second decision-making capability. Training safely through mistake-driven learning is beneficial to those who operate in difficult environments. 

Our online platform HostileWorld does something similar for Hostile Environment Training (HEAT).

2. ASDA health and safety training portal

We recently joined forces with leading supermarket retailer, ASDA, to introduce new health and safety learning online.

Using our Near-Life™ learning approach and interactive scenario game system, a time-sensitive, outcomes-based experience was designed and delivered in a way that actively engages colleagues and tracks their choices.

Ultimately, capturing a wealth of data based on scenarification i.e. the practice of transforming learning content into scenarios.

To make the learning engaging, a script was developed, post a creative story workshop involving SMEs, the production and tech team, that brought the learning points to life by using ASDA language and terminology.

A combination of professional actors and ASDA colleagues were filmed in a real store to give the scenarios added realism. This made the learning relevant as the setting and language were instantly recognisable.

3. Dropbox

Alike most companies offering services, the goal is to get more people on board and quickly before someone else steals the show.

Dropbox’s are playing good games by awarding additional drive space to users who introduce their friends to the service – you can earn an extra 500 MB for each friend you refer.

Plus, other actions on the site keep you hooked i.e. taking a tour of Dropbox’s services or connecting your social accounts. 

By directly tying their business goal with a reward that users highly value (additional storage space), the company has created a viral loop – by incentivising customers to recommend the service often, and thus bringing in a seemingly never-ending stream of new users.

Final thoughts

Gamification appeals to our natural human behaviour, while trends come and go, the aspiration of making learning content more engaging is here to stay.

How we understand gamification needs to evolve: it should only be delivered by those utterly serious about games, Big Data, analytics, and a learner centred approach.

We are still only at the beginning of the gamification journey and understanding where this approach can take us.

We may see the increasing use of terms such as ‘immersive technologies’ to explain the type of engagement we’re discussing – but at its heart, we know it’s gamification. The truth is, people love to play. So let them play, to learn.