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Fakelore Showdown – The Five Biggest Gamification Myths Busted

A number of organizations all over the world use gamification to train and educate their workforce and help them solve problems. According to MarketsandMarkets, the gamification market is expected to reach USD 11.10 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 46.3%. However, despite the widespread popularity, there’s still a certain population of people trapped in a trough of disillusionment, unsure of what gamification is, and what it isn’t.

“For all of the glitter of this shiny new object in the world of learning and development, it is not surprising that many people still operate with a limited knowledge of the subject and, as a result, often fall prey to others who believe in a number of gamification myths and misconceptions.”

In this blog, I will try to debunk five misconceptions people hold about gamification. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Myth 1: Gamification and game-based learning are the same

Both these terms are used interchangeably in the e-learning space, but they are not the same. Gamification is the use of game elements and mechanics (storytelling, badges, trophies, and leader boards) which are inherently not game-based. These elements in e-learning, are meant to engage and motivate learners. On the other hand, game-based learning incorporates actual “games” in the learning process with an aim to transfer a specific skill in a fun way.

“Gamification is first and foremost about encouragement mechanics and the system that promotes them, while game-based learning is first and foremost about the game and its cognitive residue (whether from the game’s content, or academic content).”(Source)

Although game-based learning and gamification offer a variety of benefits to e-learning, it’s important to know the distinction between them. This is to not only choose the best possible approach to serve your e-learning goals and objectives, but also to meet the learning needs of your audiences.

Myth 2: Gamification is easy to create

Creating a gamified e-learning course is not an insignificant task.

Gamification is no small act. It takes time and good planning to come up with an instructional design strategy based on game mechanics and ensure good look-and-feel of the gamified online learning course. It requires instructional designers to always keep in mind the desired learning objectives and develop learning content accordingly.

Karl Kapp, in his book The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, suggests you ask the following questions before you implement game elements in your online training:

  • Will adding rewards help the learner at certain points of the instruction?
  • Will a leader board increase motivation and the fun potential or distract learners?
  • Does the story capture the right mood of the learning experience?

Myth 3: Gamification =badges, points, and rewards

There’s more to gamification than meets the eye.

Adding extrinsic rewards such as badges, trophies, medals, and points is an important part of gamifying online learning courses, but they should not be the sole motivating factor for your learners. Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior driven by internal rewards such as enjoyment, boost in confidence, positive feelings and happiness.

Intrinsic motivation will make learners want to engage with the instruction itself, rather than interacting with it for the rewards.

Myth 4: Gamification is perfect for every learning situation

This is probably the most pervasive gamification myth in this list – that gamification is ideal for any learning situation.

There are probably many learning situations where gamification won’t work. For instance, Sexual Harassment and Diversity Training is a very sensitive concept and involves peoples’ emotions, and courses on these topics may not be received well by audiences if you choose to gamify them.

Many a time, we see learning professionals and trainers catching hold of a new concept and painting it as a solution to all their learning problems. Instead of following the herd, identify the learning need (or the business needs). Determine whether a gamified training is really what your workforce needs.

Myth 5: Gamification is less effective for corporate training

Some organizations believe that incorporating game elements in formal corporate trainings may make the program less efficient by placing more importance on competition, rather than learning. On the contrary, gamification delivers many of the benefits of “hands-on” training (found in classroom training) while adding motivational elements such as a scoring system and rewards that promote employee participation and achievement.

Analyze the needs of your learners to find out whether gamification is the right choice.

To help make your job a little easier, match the learning outcomes that might be accomplished with the help of gamification.

Use gamification to:

  • Influence learner behavior within a course
  • Drive learners to innovate
  • Encourage learners to independently build skills or acquire knowledge
  • Teach learners new content

As you prepare to explain your gamified learning initiative, anticipate these five myths that may arise and arm yourself with the facts. Gamification, as a concept, is a great training source for your learners to keep them hooked and motivated in the training program.

Did you know you can marry gamification and assessments to achieve an optimum learner performance? Check out this resource to know more.

nstructional Design 101: A Handy Reference Guide to eLearning Designers