It’s Not a Game. It’s Gamification.

How Blueline Simulations is Creating New Levels of Learning Retention.

I try not to care about FourSquare. The simple location app, which my teenage daughter helpfully loaded onto my iPhone, encourages me to “check in” every time I go to Starbucks, to Kroger, or to the hip new restaurant downtown.

Help me. I can’t stop. Every time I check in somewhere, I earn points and am able to compare my activity against my friends. I even earn “badges” for dubious achievements such as “checking in at three places after midnight.” And it is a source of some kind of misplaced pride that I have been named “mayor” with the most check-ins at Nashville International Airport’s gate C-9.

Yes, I’m being self-deprecating. But the principles behind my behavior are no game. According to tech research firm Gartner, gamification techniques (like the ones I just described) will be used in 25% of all redesigned processes in business within the next few years.

The cynical view says this trend is little more than a trick of operant conditioning. (The rat presses the lever and a pellet comes out.) But gamification is much more than that. Employed strategically, it brings extraordinary levels of engagement to learning.

How? It does this through:

  • Play. Research is increasingly showing that play is a potent force in organizational contexts. Have you ever seen videos of adorable tiger cubs wresting with one another? This play is actually their primary avenue to learning key skills for hunting and survival. Freedom to experiment and joy are not techniques to enhance the learning process; they are the learning process.
  • Collaborative competition. How did I perform compared to Joe? Where do I rank compared to the rest of my team? In gamification, these questions are in no way cut throat. The stakes are bragging rights, and playful ribbing in the conference room.
  • Immediate feedback. One element common to most gamification techniques is a constant assessment of where one stands in the process of learning. This may be accomplished through badges, leaderboards, and other point-based mechanisms. When the boss tells employees how well they are advancing or regressing in their work, the result may be feelings of vulnerability.  When that feedback comes from an unbiased leaderboard, it is surprisingly engaging.

At Blueline Simulations, programs featuring gamification techniques have been transformative for our clients. In our next blog, we’ll take a look at how these technology-enable elements of play, competition, and feedback are leading to new levels of learner engagement.

Give us a call, and we’ll explore how gamification techniques can be used in your organization’s learning programs!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *