Curated Insights – It’s ‘game on’ for Gamification in the workplace

Posted on: April 29, 2016Updated on: April 18, 2024By: JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect

I’m CONSTANTLY curating online content about learning and performance. As a learning geek, It’s my thing—well—one of my things. Every month, I’ll dig through my collections and share my favorite articles on a particular theme along with a few insights of my own. This month, I found some really interesting stuff about gamification.


Gamification works—if done well. At Axonify, we’ve witnessed the power of gamification in learning through the continued real-world success of our customers and partners. It may have been heavily dismissed as a trend just a few years ago, but gamification is definitely gaining validation as organizations get past the hype and apply the concept to solve real-world problems, like employee engagement and motivation to learn.

Here are my curated insights on gamification for April 2016:

Find your personal gamification guru from Sponge UK

This is a curated list IN a curated list. How meta! A big part of getting past the hype and finding the value in a new concept is figuring out who to listen to along the way.

The Sponge UK team has pulled together an awesome list of gaming experts in this post. While I don’t know everyone on this list personally, I can validate the big pile of gaming knowledge that lives in these people’s minds. Karl Kapp and Gabe Zichermann specifically have informed my work with gamification for several years. The list also provides suggested readings, videos, podcasts and social networking contacts for each SME.

If you want to learn more about how games and gamification can support workplace learning and engagement, this list is a great place to start (in addition to info from Axonify, of course).

Gamer Motivation Profile Findings – #GamesUR US Conference 2016 from Nick Yee

Warning! Psychology ahead! In this 30-minute recorded presentation on YouTube, Nick Yee reveals insight from research his team conducted into the psychology of gaming motivation. It’s an overall fascinating presentation for anyone even remotely interested in games and/or psychology.

I was excited to see how many of Nick’s observations align with my practical experience. For example, during my L&D work with Disney and Kaplan, we were able to realize improved motivation by applying concepts VERY similar to the cluster motivations Nick discussed, including social, mastery, achievement, and immersion. An improved practical understanding of workplace psychology is paramount for continued success in organizational learning, especially when attempting to integrate game mechanics and complex decision-making into the user experience.

The Big Easy Budget Game Lets New Orleanians Balance The City Budget from FastCompany

How much do you know about your hometown’s budget—besides the fact that things you care about never seem to get enough funding? What if you could improve your understanding and have fun at the same time?

That’s exactly what New Orleans will attempt in the fall when they release the Big Easy Budget Game. In addition to exploring this real-world application of learning through gameplay, this article also looks at the question of accessibility—a common concern for digital workplace learning. The team must consider both the lack of available public technology as well as language barriers when deploying a game-based solution.

Yes, this application is more of a simulation than gamification, but it’s still an interesting story about the value of gameplay in non-traditional situations. I’m looking forward to a follow-up after the game launches with the release of the city budget in a few months.

Gamification Research: What the Numbers Reveal from Karl Kapp

These curated insights would not be complete without highlighting the latest research by gamification guru Karl Kapp. Karl has partnered with Axonify to use our massive database of user data to dig into the real-world business impact of gamification.

In this presentation from Learning Solutions 2016, Karl reveals some initial findings from his research, which will be published in a peer-reviewed journal later this year. For example, he found that employees using Axonify were 51.64% more motivated to engage when they had the choice to play a casual game as part of the experience. Results like this not only validate Axonify’s approach, but will also help L&D teams better craft their gamification strategies based on what really works. I’m excited to follow Karl’s work as he continues to merge an academic approach to research with real-world outcomes.

That’s it for this month’s curated insights on gamification. I’ll be back next month to share a collection of articles on another theme that is impacting the world of workplace learning.

JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect's Headshot

JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect

JD Dillon became an expert on frontline training and enablement over two decades working in operations and talent development with dynamic organizations, including Disney, Kaplan and AMC. A respected author and speaker in the workplace learning community, JD also continues to apply his passion for helping frontline employees around the world do their best work every day in his role as Axonify's Chief Learning Architect.

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