Imagine being tossed off a plane from an altitude of 40,000 feet.
No parachute. No Jumpsuit. Just you, plummeting over 50 feet per second as a four-minute timer counts down.
To survive, you must answer a few questions correctly. A right answer stabilizes your course, and a wrong one accelerates your fall.
By the time you approach your final question, you only have seven seconds for the last one. As soon as it arrives, you respond in a blink.
A pair of wings pop out of your back, and you fly away as the magic words YOU WON explode on your screen.
Once the game is over, the excitement fades away—but the mistakes you made and the feedback you gained remain etched in your mind. By the time you resume work, you've already learned your lesson without the pain of a boring lecture.
You probably don't even think about how much you were emotionally connected to your avatar on the screen.
Isn't this how we want our learning programs to work? Be it mastering a machine, managing a team, or even handling an angry customer, we want our people to be ready for the challenge.
Our traditional learning programs don't always live up to that challenge. So, when the stakes are high, we wish we had a tool or a trick to work the charm for us. And gamification happens to be both.
How Gamification Enhances Real-time Training
Incorporating game elements in training or turning a complete course into a game is not new to the learning landscape. But the rise of digital technology enhanced its reach and flexibility. Now organizations are using it for more serious and specific outcomes.
Newbies coming into your enterprise are nervous but are eager to make a good first impression. Gamification of getting to know their roles and tools makes onboarding fun. Leaderboards and badges help them grow in confidence and fuel enthusiasm. This influences your learner's workplace behavior and learning retention. Your newer people can catch up to the demands of their roles faster and with more enthusiasm.
In a gamified compliance course, your learners can become a part of a fictitious team that explores content regarding your policies and in-house ethics. Now and then real-life scenarios challenge them, calling for accurate decisions at the moment. Despite their victory or defeat, everyone is feeding their conscience with all the required dos and don'ts.
Simulating meetings with clients and receiving instant feedback, enables your representatives to understand all the potential outcomes of a sales pitch. From opening a call, then identifying your customer needs and positioning your product as a solution—all supported by the small chunks of information that gaming modules provide. Game mechanics like points and levels quantify their eLearning experience.
The job of a customer service executive is not that easy. You expect them to listen to your clients all day and resolve their issues as quickly as possible. You need them to know how to respond to all possible questions. Many companies are offering gamified training to their executives, which provides real-life scenarios and gives feedback. They can also contribute content to their company's knowledge base and get incentivized for the same. So, they are not only enlightening their colleagues but are also enhancing the quality of the services they provide.
How Gamification benefits Learning and Development (L&D)
We already know that gamification enhances learner engagement. But that's just one of its many benefits. If you implement it well, it can settle a lot of scores for you.
An engaged workforce requires an educated workforce. A research article published by the International Journal of Training and Development showed the value of the tool in improving results:
"The rationale behind gamification of training is, at its simplest, that something about a given training program is broken and needs to be fixed."
— Michael B Armstrong, "Gamification of Employee Training and Development"
For example, imagine an online ILT program of a manufacturing unit, teaching safety regulations to its employees. Workplace accidents are common in manufacturing, even with video-based eLearning programs operating at their best. By redesigning the course as a game with behavioral simulations, you can gain more favorable outcomes.
Gamification provides learners immediate feedback on their actions and interactions. This allows them to understand what is wrong, what is right, and what you expect. Your learners, who are now gamers, will gain instant knowledge and learning motivation.
You already know that learning programs impact ROI. But wouldn't you appreciate it more if you can quantify the effects of your learning program? Gamification makes that possible. All you got to do is define your KPIs and compare them before and after implementing gamification. That way, you can train your employees for specific learning outcomes.
Gamification is a tool for overcoming the forgetting curve. Using spaced repetition techniques, it sticks the lessons to the learner's consciousness, so the information recall value is higher.
Science of Gamification
In an article published by Training Zone, Chris Piere, a former chief learning officer, confessed:
"A lot of standard approaches to training aren't based on real science – and may be doing more harm than good."
—Chris Piere, "The L&D Sins We Must All Stop Committing"
According to research, gaming elements like challenge and competition instigate the release of a hormone called adrenalin, which drives us to chase the challenge.To assists us in the pursuit, our brain once again releases serotonin for cognition and plasticity.
When we finally accomplish our mission, it rewards us with dopamine, the hormone of happiness and satisfaction. That's why we are addicted to games; and that's what makes it a key ingredient for learning motivation.
Here's the Caution
Gamification is like magic. It's fun and thrill on the outside but science and technique on the inside. But at the end of the day, it's just a tool and we must know how to use it.
Just as in magic, it's not the wand that does the trick; it's the hand that wields it.