Become a Gamification Guru: 3 Expert Tips for Getting More out of Your Gaming Mechanics

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Gamification Guru #1We’ve spoken ad nauseam about Gamification in the past. Seriously. We have many, many blogs on the topic and we’ve got a few in depth white papers, as well. We consider ourselves to be experts on the topic and we love to spread our knowledge around. But this week, we’ve decided to dig a little deeper. This time around, we’ll be sharing some expert level tips for getting more out of the game mechanics on your learning platform.

Like Luke receiving his Jedi Training from Yoda on Dagobah, you’ll soon feel like a master of your craft. Think of us as Sir Alex Ferguson, Richard Williams and Sir Clive Woodward, all rolled into one super-coach/next level drill instructor, ready to train you in the dark arts of gamification. When you’re ready to begin, put on your fluorescent pink spandex training suit and we’ll see you at step one.

STEP 1: Escape the Badge Buffet with Premium Badges:

Most Learning Management Systems will include some kind of badging system. In other words, when a learner completes a piece of content, they’ll be given a certain virtual trinket. Whilst all badges have some degree of motivational power, some badges are more powerful than others.

Not all badges are created equal. The harder it is to earn a badge, or the rarer it is, the more your learners will crave it. It’s the difference between eating at the buffet table and being treated to a hand-cooked meal. If you create special ‘one-off’ badges your learners will lust after the virtual reward like Gollum after the ring. You could, for instance, create a badge for being the first learner to complete a piece of content.

On Growth Engineering’s Academy LMS, Managers are even able to offer personalised ‘Praise Badges’, whenever one of their charges has done a good job. They can upload images (or use one of the badges already available on the platform) and include a message for the receiver. This way each individual learner can feel like the beautiful and unique snowflake that they really are.

STEP 2: Forget the Stick, Offer a Better Kind of Carrot:

controllerWhat’s more effective, the carrot or the stick? How about a delicious, jewel-encrusted, chocolate carrot? Experience Points and virtual Badges can be powerful tools for driving activity,but nothing spurs a learner into life quite like a tangible real-world reward. They’re like friendly learning cattle prods, jolting your learners onto bigger and better things.

The completion of some tasks (like staying at the top of the Academy leaderboards for a month, for example), deserves more than a mere pat on the back. But that begs the question: what kind of real world rewards should you be offering? Anything, really. Concert Tickets, Shopping Vouchers, Personal Days and days out for your team. You could even take things to the next level by tying the rewards to your training and development programme. One of our clients, Steinhoff Retail, have a safari animal theme across their Academy LMS, where learners progress from a lowly ‘Spring Hare’ into a mighty ‘Lion’. As part of the programme, learners can earn prizes, like the opportunity to feed lemurs or to be a lion-keeper for the day.

If you’re sitting there kicking yourself for failing to wrap your LMS around an awesome theme, then don’t fall into a sinkhole of despair. You can still link your real-world rewards to your content. Why not offer one-on-one sessions with experts from throughout your organisation (and beyond)?

STEP 3: The Never-Ending Learning Story:

5This is a big one. Most learning platforms will let you create courses or curricula, where you can bundle individual learning assets (videos, documents, eLearning units, etc.) into learning packages. This is neat, but as a solution it doesn’t go deep enough. After all, what happens when the learner has sifted through the content and reached the end of the course? Did Alexander not weep when he realised that there were no kingdoms left to conquer?

What you (and your learners) really need is the ability to create continuous learning pathways. This can be achieved by using a ‘Levels’ tool on your platform. You’ll need to make a list of the content that’s available on your system and map it onto a series of levels (on the Academy LMS, you can even set ‘required’ and ‘optional’ content).

The learner will start at ‘Level One’ (which could be the ‘induction’ level) and will have access to a certain set of content. Once they’ve completed all the tasks required of them, they’ll ‘Level Up’, earning access to all the great new content available to them at ‘Level Two’. You can create as many levels as you like (if you have enough content to do so), so that the fun never needs to stop.

The benefits of this approach are clear. Firstly, it eases the pressure on your over-taxed Admins (i.e. the people in charge of maintaining your learning portal), by automating the learning process (as much as such a thing is possible). Secondly, it means your learners will never be left wanting. They’ll always have access to a slew of content that perfectly maps on to their current level of understanding.

What’s more, by releasing content in dribs and drabs (rather than making it all available at once), you can create a sense of mystery about the content that’s hidden in the level above them. It’s like the search for the ‘Holy Grail’. You’re never quite sure what you’ll stumble upon next and your quest will never end. It’s not like your learners will ever get to a stage where they ‘know too much’. If you’ve got the structure in place already, then fire away with your content cannon.

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So there we have it. Three next-level tips for getting more out of your gaming mechanics. Let us know what you think in the comments section. If you want to continue learning, then why not download our white paper on ‘The Business Case for Gamification’.

Or, if you’re ready to take a tour of the world’s best Gamified Learning Management System, then please get in touch here, and we’ll make it happen!

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