Game-based Learning and Gamification: What’s the Difference?

Game-based Learning and Gamification: What’s the Difference?

When you talk of games and e-learning, the terms that come to mind are gamification and game-based learning. These terms are used interchangeably when talking about games but they are actually quite distinct. This blog will define these terms, and help you discover the differences between them.

The Difference

 Game-based learning is the use of games to achieve an instructional goal. Games are used in the e-learning course to help learners acquire new skills or knowledge in a fun and exciting way. In game-based learning, the content is designed so that it fits the confines of a game.

Gamification is the use of game mechanics in a non-game context to promote the desired behavior and reach the desired learning outcomes. According to Karl Kapp, gamification is the “emergent approach to instruction which facilitates learning and encourages motivation through the use of game elements, mechanics and game-based thinking.” Points, badges, leaderboards and incentives are used as rewards for completing the training modules.

Gamification in e-learning is the use of game elements to engage and motivate learners so that they become active participants in their own learning process.

The difference between game-based learning and gamification is the combination of game mechanics and the training content. In game-based learning, both these elements are fully integrated so that the game acts as the training, whereas in gamification, the game elements are used as rewards.

Application of Game-based Learning and Gamification

  a. In game-based learning:

  • Learners learn new concepts and practice new skills through experimentation, and in a risk-free setting.
  • Learners’ understanding of the subject can be gauged based on progress in the game.

Game-based learning is used in a wide variety of training areas. These include compliance training, new hire training, product sales training, and customer service training. Game-based learning is found to have a significant impact on the retention and recall rates of employees. A study found that it increased retention rates by more than 300 percent in tests that were conducted immediately after the training.

Game-based learning works because playing the game allows learners to apply new skills and knowledge without worrying about real-world implications. Since they receive feedback for their actions, they are aware of how well they are doing and the mistakes they will have to correct before applying them in the real world.

When using game-based learning in your course:

  • You can use existing games or modify so that they fit in the framework of your course.
  • The other option is to create a game that is customized to meet the needs of your course.

But you must ensure that the game creates an immersive learning experience for your learners. Experiential games, story, or character-led games are guaranteed to create an immersive learning experience.

 b.  As for gamification in e-learning:

  • Its elements of points, badges, and leaderboards feed on the human need to collect points, succeed and compete with others.
  • It can be as simple as adding levels and progress bars to your existing content or more complex such as allotting points to answers or placing top-scoring employees on leaderboards.
  • It can be effectively applied in areas such as employee onboarding, product training, or employee wellness programs.

Gamification motivates learners to complete courses to beat high scores, move up the leaderboard, or earn rewards. Gamification is best suited for content that can be memorized and does not require any major behavioral change. It is not suitable for teaching complex concepts. The training content must be simple and easy to understand. If the training takes too long to complete, it affects the engagement levels of employees and the effectiveness of the gamification strategy.

The decision to use either game-based learning or gamification as an instructional strategy depends on the goals and needs of your organization. Understanding the difference between the two will help you take an informed decision on which option will best meet your training requirements and bring in the desired results.

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