7 Key Learning Points on Gamification

Posted on: March 14, 2014Updated on: November 24, 2023By: Laura Martin

Gamification is receiving a lot of attention these days, and corporate learning teams are being tasked with understanding how best to incorporate it into their learning strategies. At its simplest, gamification is the process of making non-game activities more fun and engaging. Karl Kapp, a respected expert on the convergence of learning and technology, defines gamification as “a careful and considered application of game thinking to solving problems and encouraging learning using all the elements of games that are appropriate.” For those organizations that are embracing gamification early, it is proving to drive a more engaging learning experience and better overall retention of content.

With over 100,000 employees from world-class organizations like Walmart, Bloomingdales and J&J interacting with Axonify’s gamification elements everyday (over 36 million interactions /year), Axonify has accumulated the largest body of data around what elements of game mechanics work in the real world of corporate learning.

I thought that I’d use our weekly blog to summarize 7 key learning points around gamification.

Learning Point #1: Game Popularity is a Formula

A selection of games available in Axonify
Game Popularity = Multi-Level + Challenge + Fun

Axonify’s learning is embedded in short games that range from arcade style play to word puzzles to brain games. In developing, testing and releasing 100’s of games to learners, we’ve concluded that it’s not the style of game that makes a game popular, but rather the presence of 3 key components: multi-level, challenge and fun. When combined, these components drive usage through the roof. Our most popular games are those that are not only fun, but make the learner feel appropriately challenged while providing the ability to progress through levels of difficulty.

Learning Point #2: Game Play Variety is Critical

Offering a large selection of games and game types is essential to driving participation in learning. A key reason is that everyone has different preferences in game play and it’s important to provide options – a millennial retail associate may appreciate Angry Bird style games, whereas I (tail end of a Boomer) can’t get enough of Color Fill, a game that combines luck and skill.

Another reason that variety is important is that it keeps the experience fresh and interesting. Some learners may feel that they have mastered a particular game, while others may get bored and want to move on.

Learning Point #3: Leaderboards Drive Competition & Community

Team leaderboards in Axonify
Team leaderboards drive competitiveness and social connectedness, creating a strong sense of community.

It’s important to have both personal and team leaderboards. In fact, almost all Axonify users check their leaderboard weekly, and 37% check every single day! Clearly they care about how they and their team stack up against the competition. Team leaderboards drive social connectedness, creating a strong sense of community.

Learning Point #4: Physical Rewards are Key to Participation

The bottom-line is that rewards drive usage and enhance the overall learning experience! Those clients that take advantage of the Axonify auction feature with physical (not virtual) prizes get at least 15% more participation than those who don’t. Having a real-world reward helps translate virtual success into real-world value.

Learning Point #5: Learners Prefer the Term “Coach” Over “Avatar”

Avatars are proven to enhance the online experience by providing a virtual coach who motivates the learner, celebrating when they do well and looking disappointed when they don’t. It gives the employee someone to connect with, further engaging the learner. We have found that learners prefer the term “Coach” over “Avatar” – probably because that’s what they feel their role is. Of the 100’s of thousands of Axonify users, over 80% of them take the time to select a Coach that appeals to them.

We’ve also found that it’s important to offer the ability for learners to select from a variety of Coaches because learners like to choose one that they feel most comfortable with. Some select very realistic looking coaches, while others prefer a fun, “cartoony” character.

Learning Point #6: Employees Like to See Their Progress

Knowledge lift reporting in Axonify
An individual’s progress must be accessed & illustrated in a simple, digestible format.

Employees who are on a learning path, such as the one that Axonify provides love to see their advancement, therefore it’s extremely important to provide a progress report that is easy to access and understand. Graphical is best with the ability to drill down into more detail. In fact, 9% of Axonify users check their report card daily and 7% take extra training so that they can improve their scores.

Learning Point #7: Social

One of the most powerful engagement tools in next generation online learning environments is related to social connectivity – connecting employees to each other, the content and the organization. Providing a forum to engage socially and contribute content is not only beneficial to the learning experience, but in the age of Facebook and Twitter, is an expectation. The ability to contribute content via the Axonify platform is quickly becoming one of the most popular features of the system. Not only do employees feel that they are contributing to the learning experience of their coworkers, they feel more connected to the success of their organization. Over 15% of Axonify users engage socially every single day – a number that continues to grow.

We’re extremely excited about where gamification is taking online learning and because we’re at the forefront we’ll continue to share our new revelations as we uncover which gamification elements work best. As always, we welcome your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter.

Laura Martin

As a process person, she loves nothing more than taking a business and transforming it from obscure to renowned and beyond. She takes the reins on Axonify’s strategic alliance marketing efforts that put the company on the map.