It is estimated that as a planet we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video and computer games. Additionally a recent Zogby Analytics poll found that 57 percent of millennials (an ever increasing segment of today’s workforce) play video games at least 3 times a week.
That’s why the techniques, processes and teams applying gamification need to be stronger now than ever before to be able to match gamers’ experience expectations.
Gamification, or the use of game design elements in non-game contexts, is a powerful motivator in training and performance improvement programs as discussed in our last post, “The Gamification of Learning and What it Means”. By cueing in on the learners’ basic drive for status and achievement, training can be more effective and engaging.
Digital training is a natural fit for gamification, but it can be applied to most any type of deliverable, and the techniques are many. Here we list some of the most useful.
- Simulation: By representing the environment where the user would actually be performing the action, he or she is able to make mistakes and learn without the real-life risk, such as upsetting a customer or putting someone in danger. Simulations aid in retention, and with the advances in 3D graphics to support them, simulations are continually increasing in effectiveness.
“Studies show a significant improvement in retention when people learn by doing, even in a simulation-type environment,” says Kelley Viola, digital account manager at Alteris Group.
- Delivering learning as it becomes relevant: Instead of building courses that force or “Push” information on a user, learners are able to “Pull” the learning in as needed. All have access to the same information, yet the learning experience ends up being unique to each learner. Because the user is “pulling” relevant content, they are more likely to retain it.
- Reward and Recognition Systems: Learners are motivated to continue so they can achieve a higher status or receive a prize or reward. “I found it interesting how passionate people are to have those bragging rights,” Viola said of her experience with a gamified program. And she explains that the prize doesn’t have to be a huge investment; a closer parking spot or discount coffee is often enough to lend weight to the competition. Leaderboards that publish participant rankings can be especially motivating to people with competitive sides.
- Sharing Success Stories: Providing learners a chance to share their accomplishments, through social media for example, entices others to join. The easier you make sharing, the more participation you are likely to see.
No Quick Fixes
For all it promises, gamification isn't a quick and easy fix. It takes time and effort to design a gamified training program well, and to reach their full potential, gaming elements need to be aligned with company goals and fully supported by all stakeholders. Once a company identifies its short and long term goals, then they can begin to coordinate game mechanics to deliverables and achieve the results they seek.