How to choose between a game or gamification?

  15th March, 2019 By An Coppens

How to choose between a game and gamification is often where our clients start asking us questions. A game typically takes places outside of a work process and gets players into a player environment. If you think of board game where they sit down around the table, whilst it may take place in a learning environment or at a conference, they will get into a different mindset to go and play. The same if your game is digital and it requires entering a game world for example. The very virtue of changing setting may have upsides and downsides.

In gamification we typically stay in the process, so the points unlocked in your loyalty program are for being loyal to the company. The badges unlocked for course completion or task completion in a CRM still are a result of direct actions in the learning or sales process. If you think of your exercise apps such as Runkeeper or Fitbit or a range of others, you are still staying in the process of exercising yet it encourages you to keep going or coming back more often.

I hope that already gives you a basic understanding of the difference between the two. Making the choice will largely depend on your objectives and the type of experience you are trying to create.

When is it better to use games?

Games are good to allow people to test out new skills in a safe setting and learn about the consequences of getting it wrong from time to time. It works when you want people to step out of the process and think differently.

I use games to explain complex concepts. The gamification card deck we created helps us explain the key elements of a game to people that don’t play and often also admit to not liking games. It explains the concept of win conditions and gives a choice of game mechanics, which are hard to fathom if you are not really into games at all. For me, it means that workshops are a lot easier and take less conceptual debate before people get productive.

We created a few levels of a first-person shooter where players threw water bombs at passing cars to learn about CO2 emissions. The game was aimed at children in primary education to learn about the impact of CO2 on the environment. It was designed to be used as a teaser for more in-depth learning about emissions. Aiming to raise curiosity.

For behaviour change, a game can be a good starting point. For increased communication, a board game creates an ideal setting to get people talking about the same topic. It can be a powerful component in the mix.

When is it better to use gamification?

When the focus is on reinforcing behaviour as part of a process. Productivity can be enhanced with nudges, and gentle reminders to celebrate milestone achievements. The look and feel of gamification is similar to what you experience on platforms like LinkedIn with a progress bar and status indicator telling you how complete your profile is. Or a Stack Overflow forum experience where both questions and answers are rated by peers to help the best answers rise to the top.

In my view it is less intrusive than a game because it doesn’t require you to step out into a game environment, you just simply keep doing what you are doing already. When I am logging my calls in my sales system, I smile when it gives me a random badge of achievement. I read a lot of books and I love the addition of how much I still have to go. Purely because it gives me a sense of control and achievement.

In my view, the feeling you are trying to create is what should drive the choice. In addition to the objective, you are trying to reach.

Speak to us to help you work it out, if you are not sure.

Why board games can be more effective than e-learning?

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