When to Gamify

19th September 2016

Gamification is a buzz word that has been around for years, but is still widely misunderstood. Many L&D managers are told that they need to add it to the mix but are unsure how to go about it. Sound familiar? Then read on…


Gamification is where elements and principles of games are used to engage the learner. This can be creating an entire online game or it could be adding game mechanics to non-game situations (e.g. adding a scoreboard to measure compliancy).


Gamification puts some powerful principles of learning into play.

Exploration – not only is this a great way to engage learners, the safe environment of a game is the perfect place to explore dangerous equipment etc. without the risk of injury.

Motivation – working against personal benchmarks and engaging in friendly competition are great ways to motivate staff.

Autonomy – the very nature of the online game encourages autonomy as the user sets off on their own journey.

Mastery – allowing users to improve their scores and recognising high achievers are also hugely motivating factors.

Positive reinforcement – giving instant feedback and constructive criticism allows users to correct behaviour and retain information.

A safe place to fail – a game environment allows learners to face real life challenges in a safe environment. This is particularly important when failing has big consequences, i.e. during a fire.


There are no end of possibilities for using gamification in your learning, here are just a couple of ideas.

Branching scenarios – these are great for guiding learners through tricky situations e.g. how to deal with customer complaints, how to avoid upsetting work colleagues etc.

Virtual tours – this is a great way to allow users to explore machinery or software in a safe environment.

Quizzes – to encourage a little healthy competition team your employees up (either face to face or virtually) to engage in a jeopardy style quiz based around your chosen subject. This will be one quiz which users won’t mind re-taking!

Score boards and badges – a very simple way to gamify is for learners to collect badges and compete on scoreboards. Although this is a very basic form of gamification it still employs a lot of the factors above.


As with all learning it’s important to identify your learning objectives and grading criteria, and to communicate these early and clearly to the learner. Make sure that these learning objectives are not lost when you look at your game goals, remember that you’re creating an effective learning tool not just a game.

When choosing a concept, using well known game formats as a base will ensure your learners can instantly use it without being taught. Don’t over complicate things and stick to one main idea.

Clearly illustrate progress throughout and increase the difficulty of challenges to provide users with a sense of achievement. The difficulty level is a tough one, too easy and users won’t be engaged but too hard and they will feel demotivated.

Test early and regularly on test groups representing your learners demographics and try to implement feedback where appropriate.

Good luck and let us know if we can be of help.