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Busting Some Popular Gamification Myths

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For those who have been into medieval history and stories, King Arthur and the legend of the sword is something that keeps popping up. There are stories, parallel spin offs, Chronicles and even Anime that revolve around it. However, where there is something popular there are associated myths and misconceptions too. Goes without saying the legend has haunted stories, unsolved mysteries too linked to it. This doesn’t apply just for historical stories, but also stands true for anything that is newly introduced and gains sudden popularity, be it a technology, a device, software or even an individual.

In light of that let’s focus on something that has been quite popular in the L&D circle- Gamification. It’s a game? Or Maybe not. Is it all about game mechanics? What are those game-elements that people keep talking about? This and that and more. There are many myths associated with gamification. To understand gamification well, it is important to bust at least a few of those popular myths.

Myth 1# Game and Gamification is One and the Same

This is where all the confusion begins right? Game and gamification is different and how does it differ? Take a simple example- Math Blaster, that’s a Game, and covers learning concepts. Games hence, keep gameplay at the core while the learning concepts are delivered in between. In the same manner Candy Crush, Farm-ville etc. could be used to deliver learning.

Gamification on the other hand only uses game elements, motivational factors to help learners achieve the learning goals without any gameplay involved. America's Army, is a good example of gamification of recruitment process.

Myth 2# It Suits only a Certain Demographic

Games have often been branded as stuff for teenagers or millennials and preferred by specific gender too. The statistics have proved otherwise, and this stands true for Gamification too. Old or young, millennials or Gen Z, the elements of gamification can actively be included in learning for all. Points for completing certain courses, badges for going deep researching further or interacting and as it is more about the achievements and motivations, it is no longer gamification if too much of game-play is involved.

Myth 3# Its just about Adding Badges, Points and Leaderboards

Gamification utilizes those mechanics; however, the learning design requires proper planning. The Point and badge system cannot be just plugged in anywhere and called gamification. Adding some badges to the existing eLearning modules can’t turn it into an engaging one. Gamification is about the strategy, the connection, and the challenge that drives engagement and the rewards that fulfill the experience.

Myth 4# It can’t be used to Deliver Serious Subject Matter

This is closely associated to the fact that when we say gamification people usually imagine colorful buttons, flashy screens and all that captures attention in a game. However, as mentioned before Gamification and Games are quite different. Gamification can be done for any subject matter as long as it meets the learning requirements and is designed keeping in mind the instructional principles. So, it can be a blend of interconnected simulations, videos, or interactives, divided into levels, where progression depends on assessments or completion of modules etc. The points and badge system here work as motivators for course progression. And hence, no matter how complex the subject matter, use of gamification depends on the learning requirement.

Myth 5# It is the Miraculous Solution for All Learning Requirements

Just gamify it, that should solve the issue right? Well, only if gamification were the Fairy Godmother for all eLearning woes. Learning depends on the learners. Unless they understand the actual purpose of the course and are introduced to the new learning strategy, addition of all the game elements in the world would mean nothing. So, like any other learning strategy, the pitching, promotion and most importantly the context of learning makes a difference and not just gamification.

So be it the Librarian folklores at schools or the myths around King Arthur’s Sword, or as in this case the Myths around Gamification, everything can be busted if looked into in a logical perspective. Gamification though not a new concept, is still being explored and like any new learning strategy has its own share of oppositions and challenges. However, the fact remains that Gamification can transform eLearning and training. The result depends on how it is put to use.

What are your thoughts on Gamification? Do let us know.

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