Three Things to Consider Before Gamifying Your Course

by Jacob Guerra-Martinez

Gamification is one of those concepts that people hear about and want to try, but some are unsure of how to get started. Before diving right in, it is always best to take a step back and really understand what it means to gamify a course. In other words, the more you know how something works, the more effective you will be in using these concepts in your course. Here are three tips to help you get started on the path to gamification.

Try Playing Some Games

In my last post on gamification, I talked about the difference between gamification and game-based learning, the biggest difference being that gamification focuses on using gaming concepts within course design while game-based learning is about the actual game. If you want to get started with gamification, this excellent article from eLearning Industry actually says it best: Play Games. Playing games (such as videos games, board games, and even hide and seek) is the best way to understand how games work. However, do not just play the game; really dig in there and analyze the different elements that make it so effective. For example, does the game offer rewards? Do you need to accomplish certain tasks to unlock levels? Why does it keep you going back for more? The more games you play, the more you will begin to see how different gaming concepts can be utilized in your course.

Gamify Your Life

Another great tip from the eLearning Industry article is to think about the different daily tasks you do (or as it says in the article, “your daily annoyances”) and see how they can be gamified. For example, how can waiting patiently in line be rewarded? Perhaps you give yourself a treat for not becoming impatient or not leaving before your number was called. It may not seem like much at first, however using these moments will help you start figuring out how you can implement gamification in almost any situation.

Gamification Doesn’t Fit Everything

This next tip is based off another good article, this time from Learning Solutions Magazine. In their article “The Smart Instructional Designer’s Path to Gamification: Add Value, Not Points,” they remind people that not everything has to be gamified. This is important to know, especially since excitement might take over and you’ll want to try and reward every little task you can think of. However, since the point of gamification is to add value and engagement to activities, you need to be highly selective of the types of tasks you choose to reward. Having too many takes away from the importance and value of the reward, and might be viewed as just another menial task that needs to be completed.

Gamification does not have to be complicated, but even the simplest of games have mechanics that need to be understood. The best way to figure out why a game is so effective is to start playing the game, and then see how you can use the concepts in your everyday life. Also, remember that not you do not need to gamify everything, or else the tasks may lose value. But most importantly, do not forget to get creative and to have a little fun with the idea.

If you would like to know more about gamification or want to brainstorm some ideas, contact Learning Designer Jacob Guerra-Martinez.

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