Developing a Learning Culture

How to Get Your Learners as Addicted as Pokemon Go Players

You can barely go online–let alone leave your house–without meeting a barrage of Pokemon Go players hunting for a Jigglypuff or looking for tips to level up. As of last month, the game boasts 21,000,000 active users and cranked up Nintendo’s stock price 120 percent, with the price of Nintendo-related paraphernalia going up 200 percent in the wake of its July release.

The reason for the mass Pokemon-related hysteria? It’s the players themselves driving the craze. Message boards and forums are abuzz with tips for Pokemon hunting; players are interacting out in public; and, most importantly, players are logging in again and again throughout the day. In short, Pokemon Go players–even those that may not seem like video gamers–are completely addicted.

But, while Pokemon Go is a new game, the tactics Nintendo uses to get players hooked aren’t anything groundbreaking. In fact, one might argue that in order to get players on board, Nintendo when back to the fundamentals of user engagement to create a recipe for success. The good news? You can get your learners as addicted to learning as they are to capturing a Charmander during lunch break.

The Formula

The first factor in Nintendo’s formula is definitely the incentive. The Incentive is the reason players log in not just once, but several times each day. Not only can users catch Pokemon when they’re out and about, but they can level up through gameplay. This individual accomplishment has users wanting to see how quickly they can level up to beat friends by playing often throughout the day to achieve different goals in a gamified world.

In learning, the incentive is everything, and “knowledge” isn’t really enough. Not only will you need to explain how content will benefit your learners, but you’ll need to provide actionable goals and incentives to extract motivation from them. Badges, skipping chapters, and even leaderboards can change the way your learners interact with the content, pushing them to check in and complete modules often.

Another factor is the community. It’s no secret that Pokemon Go has a wide, loyal, and varied community. Playing the game makes you feel like you’re part of a group. What was once seen as restricted to hardcore gamers now has spread to virtually every demographic, making Pokemon Go extremely social and very relatable for everyone.

That social aspect can completely revolutionize the way you look at learning. Learners don’t want to get stuck on their own, and they’re more likely to sign in and experience learning if their coworker/colleague/cubicle mate is doing the same thing and talking about it. Social tools like Slack or forums can make learning more community-driven, allowing you the benefit of crowdsourcing learner motivation.

Finally, Pokemon Go’s relevance makes all the difference. Because of the game’s futuristic use of augmented reality, players can capture Pokemon in the moment; right here, right now. There’s no waiting, which means instant gratification.

Most eLearning struggles with relevance because it’s often related to compliance and safety training. Instead of teaching learners in the moment, they’re supposed to experience modules and then hopefully remember the information later. But what if learning was done in-the-moment for hyper-relevant topics? A fire or safety drill, for instance, could be announced via alerts on your learners’ mobile phones, or perhaps they could sign into a learning library to search topics as they arise in the field. Information could even be delivered based on learner location, such as reminders about certain areas at work, safety tips, task reminders, and even health information and tips. By making learning happen in the moment, it becomes relevant and is less likely to get the brush-off from busy, on-the-go learners.

Your eLearning might never reach the levels of addiction achieved by Pokemon Go, but you can still adopt Nintendo’s simple formula for getting your learners hooked. It’s a new game, but the concepts are old: by creating learning that is incentivized, social, and relevant, you might actually get your learners to look up from their Pokemon hunts long enough to teach them a thing or two.