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Feb 2016

Do you know how to think like a gamer?

Blog posts

Dilpazier Aslam

Dilpazier Aslam

Senior Learning Designer

Let's talk about how to think like a gamer. But before that, let me ask you this question: why would you want to add gamification to your elearning in the first place?

Do you recall the last time you spent way too much time playing a game? Hide and seek, Scrabble or Minecraft?

There’s something about the human being that’s driven to achieve goals: find the person, make a word, build a virtual city. And that drive, that motivation to complete a task, is what gamification seeks to tap into.

If you can get someone to be motivated to complete the piece of elearning, then the power is in our hands to build good habits, help learners discover new knowledge or see the rationale behind compliance courses.

It's Time for a New Mindset

So to add gamification into your courses, you have to think like a gamer. And to do that you have to see learners as players.

Once you’ve adopted this mindset you should aim for two goals:

  1. Get learners players to ‘play’ your course
  2. Keep them playing because they want to.

And to help you achieve these goals, gamification has three principles:

  1. Onboarding
    where you get players hooked onto the game in the first place
  2. Scaffolding
    where you support players to learn and progress though the game
  3. Pathways to mastery
    where you provide players the chance to become experts.

In practice this means shifting our mindset when we create courses so that we focus on tapping into the incredibly powerful motivation to play games.

As Rudyard Kipling once said (obviously I’m paraphrasing):

“If you can make it interesting and easy(ish) for players to begin the game in the course; if you can support players through the use of guides, tips, expert advice to progress in the game; if you can offer layers in the game where they can flex their new skills to achieve higher goals, and you can do this without making the game too hard or easy, then you’ll have gamified your course my son.”

Actually you won’t have, because we haven’t added the element of FUN. Who wants to play a game that’s no fun?

Make It Fun

According to Nicole Lazzaro there are four types of fun (why wouldn’t there be):

  • Easy fun
    remember playing ‘catch-me’ as a child?
  • Hard fun
    feeling great after losing weight or stopping smoking
  • People fun
    running a marathon in a team
  • Serious fun
    helping save an endangered animal from extinction

Essentially, when gamifying your course, you have to proactively add a sense of fun. But this fun might even be really difficult, like a MENSA maths challenge where your players keep trying until they succeed.

This blog is part of a series on gamification. Coming up next: why was it that when one nursery started to fine parents £10 for picking their kids up late, parents started to arrive even later! (In other words, the best ways to motivate people and some of the ways not to.)

More in this series

Dilpazier Aslam

Dilpazier Aslam

Senior Learning Designer

Dilpazier is a highly skilled Senior Learning Designer, with a decade of experience in instructional design and marketing. He has a reputation for creating courses with the learner always at the centre, and nourishing his work with a creativity based on sound pedagogic research.