What is Gamification Training?
Gamification training, one of the hottest trends in corporate eLearning, is the use of game play elements in a learning experience. While games have enormous power, they aren’t the teacher! They are the experience in which the lesson lives and the means by which we drive the learning forward.
When gamification in eLearning is done right, the gaming elements inspire users to keep moving forward, reward them for correct choices, and even create friction and calculated frustration to challenge them. Gamification is a powerful, neuroscience-backed tool for measuring some behaviors and correcting or redirecting others.
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WHY Is Gamification Training Powerful?
It all comes down to dopamine, the most critical element in game play. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter or chemical, that sends signals between our brains and nerves in our bodies. It controls the pleasure center of our brains, while also affecting our mood, memory, and ability to think. Neuroscientist Eric Marr studies dopamine in relation to learning in his lab at Eastern Washington University. In Marr’s TEDx speech, he describes conducting experiments with rats in mazes, where they receive a food reward for completing a task correctly, while researchers measure the output of dopamine in their brains. He says, “Dopamine helps activate the learning centers in the brain. If your brain releases dopamine while you’re learning something, it helps you remember what you’ve learned at a later date.” Dopamine, then, promotes long-term learning.
What does dopamine have to do with games? A study done in London during the late 90’s proved conclusively that games cause two times the normal amount of dopamine release in users, who were asked to navigate a tank for a monetary reward. By observing such a strong surge of pleasure caused by the rewards (gaming features) built into the game, the researchers determined why games are so addictive.
Now we connect the dots: If games can affect huge surges in dopamine, a chemical which gives us pleasure and helps us to learn, then games can be powerful, fun learning tools. Gamification, the process of introduces gaming elements into a learning experience, then, is an awesome way to make the learning pleasurable and help learners remember the lesson for the long-term.
HOW is Gamification Training So Powerful?
By using gaming elements in a lesson, we can cause the learner’s brain to release dopamine during those crucial learning moments and really solidify and deepen the meaning of the lesson.
Everyone is motivated by something, whether it’s intrinsic rewards (altruism, sense of belonging and love), or extrinsic rewards (levels, points, badges, awards, missions.) Usually, either one or the other is enough to keep people interested. Gamification training seeks to combine both types of motivation.
Below we’ve listed a few game features and why we use them, giving examples of each in a training.
Achievements, points, badges, trophies, and rewards
These all fall into the same category because they achieve the same purpose. By providing checkpoints in a journey or process, they give users a chance to feel successful not just when they’ve completed a module or task, but throughout the lesson. This keeps them motivated and engaged. Also, they prove that a learner was successful in achieving certain skills or knowledge facets.
Gamification Training Example: Car rental company.
We were tasked with making a compliance course more tolerable. If you have ever taken a compliance course, you know that they aren’t super exciting. Since our client was a car rental company, we decided to create a road trip theme. Users would follow the course map, which would show the length of the course and lay out each topic visually. They would also be issued a Compliance Passbook, where they would collect stamps after each micro course was completed. We used the following gaming features to keep users engaged and get the dopamine flowing:
Achievements: The Passbook gave users a sense of satisfaction during the course, and when the course was completed. That way, we could stimulate small amounts of dopamine release in users’ brains to keep them engaged and interested. The Passbook was important for compliance as well, as it gave managers proof that learners had finished all of the modules.
Badges: The stamps in the Passbook functioned like badges, where users could see the results of their learning. The Map was also an excellent way to see where they had been.
Progress: Not only did the map show users where they had been, it showed where they needed to go, so they could feel even more satisfied as they moved along toward the end. The Passbook had shadowed, or ghosted, stamp outlines that indicated the chapters users still needed to complete.
1. The Course Map for the rental car compliance training. 2. The Compliance Passbook to reward users