How much fun is mandatory fun?


‘I’m bored’, moans Zayd, still in his dinosaur pyjamas. ‘There’s nothing to do!’

Cue parent, desperate for some peace.

‘Why don’t you go and play in the garden.’
‘I don’t want to.’
‘You could read a book?’
‘I’ve read everything.’
‘Okay, shall we go to the park?’
‘Can we? Awesome!’

That conversation repeated in all its variations offers an incredible insight into humans; you can’t force people to have fun. Instead they have to choose it.

And gamified elearning is no exception.

Mandated fun

Imagine getting an email from your manager telling you to complete 45 minutes of mandated fun. You will have fun completing this course about our anti-corruption policy, because it’s gamified.

Most of us might respond like Zayd to the suggestion of reading a book or going out to the garden. It’s not something we ‘want’ to do.

So gamified elearning is reliant on consent.

How do you get the players (learners) to consent?

There are three simple, must-have conditions to gaining consent according to Ethan Mollik, assistant professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania.

These are that:

  1. Players understand the rules
  2. They see the game as fair and feel they could win
  3. They have an interest in it.

Conditions one and two are pretty self-explanatory. If the game is overly complicated, or there’s very little chance of you winning, learners are not going to bother.

But how on earth do you get people to have in interest in a piece of elearning?

Well I’m glad you asked. This is about the those powerful intrinsic motivators factors again; if you can help the player see the value in the game, you can leverage the ensuing interest to propel them to complete the course.

What motivations can you highlight in your elearning?

Here are four to start with. Ask yourself:

  • Is the course about skills development?
    Many want to do well in their jobs and enjoy the pay and promotion that goes alongside that

  • Does the course give the learner useful information?
    For example, how great a salesperson they are, how good they are at resolving problems

  • Does the course give a sense of corporate citizenship?
    This is especially powerful if the aims of the organisation chime with their personal values

  • And of course, is it fun?
    Because everyone loves fun! 

So don’t oblige engagement. Pick out something that will motivate the learner and pull at a heart string. Show that the game is interesting for some intrinsic value and grab their interest.

Add to this some clear rules, and a genuine opportunity to succeed, and you’ll have gained the consent of the player.

Suddenly your course becomes a play in the park.

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