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The power of gamified content in training courses

As a kid I never wanted to grow up. I had such a great time, everything was a like a game, and I didn’t want it to end, never ever. In my childish mind, growing up was like a barrier where the fun and magic world of games ends and the serious adult life begins. I always thought of grownups as serious, responsible people who have to go to work where they can’t play games and have fun. It seemed so boring and zero fun.

Now I gladly acknowledge that I was wrong. Since then I came to realize that adulthood isn’t that bad. Actually it can be great fun even at work; you just have to let the kid inside you to find the fun parts of everyday life. And yes, we all have a kid hidden deep inside, and all this kid wants is to have fun and play games. After all, Pokemon GO was a success among adults as well.

Fortunately, instructional designers discovered the existence of this kid and realized they can make company trainings more appealing for employees. It is simple. They just have to involve this hidden kid. So they came up with great ideas such as gamification and gamified scenario-based learning, which help learners take in information more efficiently and in a pleasant way.

Training courses can be interesting and engaging to go through, especially if they were created with modern learning management systems and they contain multimedia elements such as audio and video files. But sometimes that isn’t enough. Often people can be reluctant to take part in company training because it doesn’t stir their interest enough. The prospect of reading hundreds of pages and watching training videos isn’t appealing. This can be easily remediated if you create a buzz around the training activity by making the whole process a game.

But why would gamified learning content work in a serious environment such as company training? Well, there are quite a few reasons why it should work:

Games are engaging

Games can make courses engaging by simply adding the element of a challenge to them. People are naturally drawn to challenges, they want to show themselves, and show others, that they are able to overcome the challenges they meet.

For example, scenario based games that mimic real life situations can be engaging during the learning process. Employees can put to the test their current knowledge and can try out new strategies without the fear of failing.

An added benefit of gamified content is the instant feedback employees get. If their tried strategy isn’t working, they will see instantly what went wrong. Therefore, they can learn from their mistakes and they’ll do better next time and in real life situations.

Games motivates learners

The intrinsic motivation of the hunger for knowledge isn’t always enough for employees to take part in company trainings. If instructors want to have successful trainings they have to design appealing courses and, more importantly, they have to motivate learners and keep them focused.

Gamified content can be a good motivator because it introduces a certain amount of competition in the process. Learners can compete against the system, against each other, or even challenge themselves.

Advancing through levels and getting badges can give learners instant gratification and it will make them come back for more. Setting goals in the game will keep learners focused as they strive to achieve them faster and with better results than other players.

Games improve information retention

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe... We all remember counting rhymes and riddles from our childhood and that’s because we learned most of them as part of games.

Small pieces of content are easy to memorize, but when it comes to long and complex content, even adults can have problems understanding and learning it. Just as in the case of children, gamified content can help adults to better understand the course by focusing their attention on the key parts of the learning material. If the course has games where learners can try out what they’ve learned, not just their retention rates will be better, they will be able to retrieve the new knowledge from their memory much faster when they meet a similar situation in real life.

One last thing about gamified content in training courses

Games can be an important asset when it comes to company trainings because they attract learners and make them connect on a deeper level with the content. And let’s face it, people like games. They like the challenge, the competition and the gratification it offers.

But if we want to use games at their highest potential, we must keep in mind that the purpose of games in training is to aid the process of learning.

Games should have clear rules which all users have to obey and the rewards should be meaningful for the players, with a real-life value, in order to be motivating. Gamified content shouldn’t be used just for the fun factor alone. It can be counterproductive if it distracts learners’ attention from the content itself and disrupts the process of information transfer.

PS. And don’t forget about the kids inside of us, we all should let them play from time to time.

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public. — Bryan White