The Deep- Rooted Benefits of Gamification Mechanics

Gaurav Sharma, Head of UI & UX Design, LearningMate

LearningMateLearningMate offers innovative, efficient and customized solutions around curriculum and media develop-ment, assessments, engineering and big data. From a modest startup established in 2003, LearningMate has grown to employ more than 1,000 Full Time associates spread across 6 locations in 4 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and India and serve a global clientele of education publishers, traditional and nontraditional Ed-tech companies, K-20 schools, universities and career colleges, government agencies, non-profits, corporate training and education consortia.

We all love playing games because they’re FUN! But what is it that makes it fun?

It is careful adherence to basic principles of psychology that game designers use to make playing fun. There are psychology fallacies that are most commonly used like the Gambler’s Fallacy, Illusion of Control, and Availability Heuristic etc.

What is it that happens to us when we play games? The sense of achievement that includes the urge to progress in the game (levels) and to compete with others. The social and collaboration component that makes us form connections and collaborate on group efforts within a game. The immersion component that makes us create and customize the environments/characters in the unique story of the game and escape from real-life. There are several theories that state that human behavior is driven by the need for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. If those needs are met, we enjoy activities more, even in gaming. Competence is fulfilled in games through flow when a game challenges the player enough that makes the gamer want to continue to play. Autonomy is met because we feel a sense of control. Relatedness is met when we interact with an environment that is different from real life.

Designers have used principles and elements used in games for a purpose other than just entertainment. Gamification, application of these principles and elements to a non-game context, is used to engage users and solve problems. These can be applied to system/platform for influencing human motivation and behavior and solve a problem. Gamification does not mean you build a game, it is the application of game mechanics to systems/platforms/content. It is used to build experiences that are responsible for the human fascination and connection with playful activities. Gamification is today used successfully in the fields of Marketing, Health, Education etc.

"The purpose of these virtual environment applications can vary greatly depending on the market and subject area"

The idea of continuing education, that is exciting and engaging, is a necessity for the majority of us. This is one of the reasons why eLearning is one of the fastest growing industry and usage of gamification has become increasingly popular. It can make the overall experience more enjoyable and more effective. The gamification principles, if applied correctly, work for au-diences of all age groups, subject areas, cultures etc. With careful application, it can help you create exciting, educational, and entertaining content as well as platforms.

Gamified eLearning solutions challenge learners or give them the chance to achieve a particular reward, be it badges or points or moving to next level. It has been seen that playful gamified learning solutions help create a sense of excitement within the learners because they feel that they are accomplishing something that leads to a boost in motivation and makes the experience more powerful and memorable. Some of the benefits associated with gamification in eLearning are:

- it increases learner engagement

- it makes learning fun and interactive

- it improvement in knowledge absorption and retention

One of the most important elements of gamification in eLearning is flexibility that is given to the users. Once such example can be customizable Learning Paths or Achievement Paths. In real-world learners tend to jump between chapters, concepts and learning objectives according to interest areas and not really go in a linear fashion. There must be multiple ways for learners to demonstrate mastery, by providing alternate assignments to practice, resubmission, and flexible deadlines when possible. Rewards and Badges give a sense of achievement. They can be based on completion of modules, performance on assignments, comparison with friends, time spent learning etc. They give a sense of autonomy that leads to better results. Avatars can be an element that allows learners to brag achievements via badges and leader boards. Leveling is also a great way to provide learners with a method of keeping track of how they are doing in a learning environment. Leaderboards make learning fun! A game wouldn’t be half as addictive if we didn’t know other players’ scores. Without a little healthy competition, many collaborative experiences would soon become pointless, lonely and boring.

Virtual and Augmented reality in education technology, one of the most talked about thing, opens a new realm of possibilities for creating better learning experiences. The purpose of these virtual environment applications can vary greatly depending on the market and subject area. A nursing student might want to know how to operate complex medical equipment in an emergency situation before they are entrusted with real ones. Using augmented and virtual reality along with gamification as part of the education process allows learners to experience systems at a much lower cost.

Gamification mechanics can help design and develop experiences that target specific player behavior, learning experiences that result in greater engagement. It has a huge potential, as it is using tools to create a playful environment that is fun for simple things. All in all, this means that if Gamification is implemented well, it can be a great help for the users, even if not everyone responds equally well. It is important that the gamification is seen as a help and not a distraction.