Gamification for Business Learning
Updated: May 1
We’ve all been in a situation where you’re sitting at a desk, watching or reading training modules, filling in short quizzes, or maybe even shadowing a co-worker. Although you’re learning, it’s difficult to stay immersed and actually retain all of that information. Recently, industries have turned towards gamification to help streamline this process and make business learning more efficient. Gamification means using natural motivators and positive coping skills to stimulate individuals. Usually, this leads to games because attractive motivators are fun and immersive. This blog post will cover gamification in an “office” setting but can be applied to any industry whether it’s industrial manufacturing, healthcare, or universities. After reading this, you’ll know what gamification is and how you can start implementing it in your office’s culture! Gamification is the process of enhancing services, organizations, and activities by mimicking games using various game-design elements. By borrowing from these elements, organizations can further motivate and engage their teams in a fun way that is easy to understand. Although we’ll be going over gamification in an office setting, it’s a powerful teaching program that can be applied internally and externally to many
industries. For example, by gamifying your product/service, you may increase brand loyalty by 22%. Giving customers a greater experience when interacting with your brand will help keep you top-of-mind and memorable.
(Photo of three person-shaped blocks from unsplash.com by Christopher Paul High)
One of the main consequences of gamification is behavioral change. By adopting
game mechanics into daily activities, group culture can become more engaging,
enjoyable, and productive. This is due to the lasting behavioral changes that
gamification offers. Borrowed game mechanics, like rewards, incentivize the learner to put in more effort, turning them from passive observers into active participants. By becoming more active in the activity, learners are more likely to absorb information and commit it to long-term memory (Pappas 2014). Positive behavioural change can be used to help train new employees, teach company culture and values, or increase efficiency for existing teams. Whatever the case, we believe that gamification can be highly beneficial for any business or organization that is looking to improve processes and company culture.
To piggyback on what I mentioned above, gamification is at its best when you have your “gameplay loop”. That is, your repetitive activities that a player does while playing. In a game like Pokemon, this involves catching Pokemon, training them, and catching newer, stronger creatures. The entire game series revolves around this single gameplay loop, but the reason why people are so invested in this is because of the reward. By continually improving your own actions and partner creatures, you are constantly seeing a visible improvement. If we are able to apply this in a workplace setting, our teams would be constantly improving themselves in this habit loop of motivation and rewards. In Pokemon, these rewards are cute, strong, or goofy creatures that you build a bond with. In the workplace, rewards can be increased leadership in projects, physical prizes,
monetary prizes, or workplace-specific rewards. By setting up the right habit loop,
employers can also take into factor behavior as well. When implementing the desired behavior, the focus needs to be on the reward (Shore 2015). The sense of
accomplishment for completing these tasks or “gameplay loop” will become second nature, and thus helping teach company behavior.
As with any team, there’ll be several factors that could affect progress such as conflicts and individual concerns. The way a team lays out and structures its tasks is almost as important as teamwork and performance. Goals are particularly important for motivation because they give direction, force innovative thinking, and provide a challenge (Vegt et al. 2014). In games, goals often take the form of stage completion, shiny rewards, more efficient abilities, and more (Organizational Behaviour 2017). Because gamification borrows from game-design elements, it makes sense to take current goal setting in a team environment and apply elements from games that make them fun and more engaging. In a group setting, praise and feedback are great for improving morale, but when it’s made fun through gamification, it can be easier to do more frequently (Adler n.d.). By using something like a trophy, teams will be more motivated to work towards a tangible reward, and the friendly competition will further push their motivation to come out on top. Additionally, gamifying a team’s actions can help track results and aid in time management. The history of games has always included tracking scores, whether it be 1-million points in the 1981 Donkey Kong game, or a tournament for a 2.3 million-dollar prize pool, it’s no secret that score tracking and competition can bring out more motivation for individuals and teams. Being able to note every key input, such as a sales calls booked, an article published, or bug fixed, can create positive accountability for a team and drive a lift in performance.
(Photo of chocolate coins from unsplash.com by Sharon McCutcheon)
Part of the reason why gamification is so effective is its immersive nature. Learners who experience immersion are more likely to focus on any meaningful information or choices (Ole Goethe 2019). Being able to create immersive content isn’t easy, but if the context is gripping, the learner will feel compelled to pay attention and react in a way that gives them the best outcome. This immersive gamification ties back to behavioral change and how it can be used to teach company values. Max Tran and S.I.G. are both games with dozens of written scenarios that aim to deeply involve players and promote positive behavioral change in workplace settings. As Godfrey Parkin puts it, “gamification … is a process of threading continuous motivational engagement throughout the learning experience” (Parkin 2019). Parkin goes on to mention that positive immersion works because rewards can be given at any moment and that these
contextualized challenges provide an immediate reason to want to learn. As a student and gamer myself, I can attest just how much immersion can keep me focused on a story. If lectures were even half as gripping as these games, I probably wouldn’t need these lecture notes to begin with!
Positive coping skills are similar to motivators in that they are both capable of
stimulating behavioral change. The use of gamification to improve coping skills will help teams and individuals better tolerate, minimize, and deal with stressful situations (Morin 2020). The two main types of coping skills include problem-based coping and emotion-based coping. There’s no right answer as to which form to focus on. It’s all dependant upon the team’s needs and ultimately your own. In a study by Mario Silic and Paul Lowry, the two attempted to increase positive coping skills by using gamified systems in combination with unambiguous feedback. For them, it meant using leaderboards, points, measurements, features that convey general progress, and the presence of a gamemaster (Silic and Lowry 2020). Increased learning through gamified
elements can encourage self-efficacy. A study by Li and Lwin shows the results of
immersing a learner with an avatar. By having them experience themselves, the results and consequences are far more effective than traditional learning (LI and Lwin 2016). Of course, it’s not always possible to play through a simulation to learn a specific skill or workplace scenario. Whether you decide to try using a drawn avatar for each member of the team, use points and a leaderboard, or include a “gamemaster” that oversees rules, increasing individual sense of presence will further immerse your team, which will help them gain more as a result of their experiences. As you can see, there are so many elements and aspects of games that can be borrowed and used in learning to increase focus and immersion. In a game, the more immersed you are, the more likely you are to invest significant time in the context, story, details, and more. By applying these same elements, our goal is to improve workplace learning and behaviours to be more fun and engaging. Nobody wants to sit and watch an old 20-minute training video. If the training/onboarding process can become fun and engaging reward individuals for learning, it could benefit entire industries! At Ignite Learning Technology, we are committed to closing the gap between gamification and workplace learning using our own platform called Ignite. The games in our Interactive platform present dozens of scenarios and workplace behaviors that players can immerse themselves in.
Contact us for a free consultation.