Learning design still matters with gamification

In the past year I have heard a few gamification experts claiming that traditional principles of learning design are dead and should be left to the side. By saying that, they also throw out all the great things good learning design brings to the table, such as learning objectives. Even in gamification design I want to start with objectives, whether those are mine or those of the learner or both is not quite the discussion point. Gamification works when there is a distinct purpose, just like all game design does.

A fellow gamification designer pointed out an example of where the person looking for information has to go through a platform game and then receives random bits of information supposedly relating to a framework. Now in my view making the learner play in an un-related, lack of purpose style manner is beyond me. If I am a learner looking for information on a framework, then at least present me the route to mastery instead of some frustrating game play to access it. I didn’t last the distance of actually finding the framework and regretted it wasn’t a first person shooter instead because that would have helped my feelings at least, even if I learned nothing.

Great learning designers for years have managed to implement learning in an engaging and challenging way for their learners. The game dynamics to learn from is to appeal to the first person player instinct and to create an element of curiosity about the new topic. Adding game elements to a learner journey should be helping the learner to gain more knowledge, delve deeper and see how they are progressing through the given information. Allowing for testing the new skills in a game environment is another fun way where gamification can aid learning design.

Creativity and problem solving is in most learning processes and essential part, just like it is in all captivating games. As soon as we stray way too far from the core objective, the interaction becomes a side activity and is often irrelevant and frustrating. Most content itself allows for some form of storytelling and creativity, start from there and then challenge the learner to take a related to content style quest, where they can see their progress.

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