Gamification is a buzzword that encompasses a variety of subtopics including simulations, badging, serious games, virtualization and more. It’s the process of leveraging the natural desire human beings have for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement and status, into beneficial learning outcomes. For use in business specifically, gamification is the application of game-design mentality to traditionally non-game processes – such as corporate training.
Game-based learning can be extremely effective because of its unrivaled ability to fully engage learners, vastly improving knowledge retention rates, and it’s ability to simulate real-life situations in a low risk environment. Human beings simply learn better by doing, and gamification allows for ‘the doing’ without the negative consequences of mistakes in the real world.
Another reason behind the effectiveness of gamification is its ability to prompt behavioral changes. Rewards such as points, badges, up-leveling and leaderboards help to drive behavioral changes when combined with the proven, scientific principles of repeated retrieval and spaced repetition. Succeeding in game-like settings is a natural high for human beings, creating a literal release of dopamine. And our natural desire to replicate that dopamine release can be a powerful trigger in directing our behavior.
Gamification is also effective in its broad scope of uses. It can be used to fulfill most learning needs such as onboarding, sales, customer support, softer skills and compliance. It’s a universal concept driven by psychological factors that can be worked into improving any formal training in a corporate setting.
While gamification has many uses and can be immensely effective in improving learning outcomes, much of that success depends on having clarity around those outcomes in the first place. Creating a game-like scenario that captures a learner’s attention, challenges them, engages and entertains them is important, but the crucial step is to align those things with actually teaching them the knowledge and skills necessary to improve their performance in the workplace.
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