All that glitters is not gamified

It’s unfortunate but true: gamification of training often gets conflated with gamey-looking graphics.

But these are neither required for gamified training, nor are they sufficient to boost learning outcomes.

Gamification is about using game mechanics in order to:

  • Present the content as an engaging series of puzzles/challenges (the “cognitive” route)
  • Compel the learner to persevere through the process of going from newbie to expert (the “motivational” route).

So all that glitters is not gamified.

The good news is, all that is gamified does not have to glitter. There are awesome training programs out there that leverage the power of game mechanics effectively and boost learning outcomes, without looking anything like a game. This is “under-the-hood” gamification, and it works.

So take heart. If you feel overwhelmed by the veneer, graphics, animation (and apparent budget!) of some gamified training programs, or if you think pixel art will turn your clients off, you don’t need it. Using the power of game mechanics, and the learning outcomes that result from it, has a lot more to do with good instructional design, something you already master, than with the look and sound of your program.