The Gamification of Learning and How it Challenges Engagement

Regardless of whether we’re talking about college students, employees or simply a casual user, almost everyone hopes to be both challenged and inspired when it comes to learning. That’s why the gamification of learning has become such a successful teaching tool in a wide variety of fields; it allows users to work towards clearly reachable goals by adapting and exploring new horizons. In fact, many experts even go as far as to claim that gamification creates a unique opportunity to facilitate a challenging, almost addictive experience that brings out the best in pupils.

To understand why the gamification of learning is such a powerful educational tool, one must look no further than how we played video games as children. Remember all of those near-impossible Super Mario Brothers levels that we’d spend hours trying to pass as children? That very journey, and the satisfaction that we felt after being successful, is why the average user embraces the gamification style of learning.

Setting Clear Goals

The first aspect of gamification that helps facilitate learning is the actual goal aspect- users are given direct challenges that can be met through practice and repetitive learning. These goals could be anything from advancing in levels to receiving a reward, or accessing new content; the catalyst itself is not nearly as important as the strategies that the user must adapt to complete each goal. Because even in failure, the learner gains new skill sets and a better understanding of how to meet the objective.

For example, the 3D Para-Trooping Simulation that we created for the United States Air Force Academy challenges cadets to judge wind, velocity and many other factors as they try to complete a perfect jump from an aircraft. The life-like feel helps users immerse themselves in the simulator to the point where they directly learn the consequences of slow reaction times or other common rookie mistakes, without actually placing their lives in danger.

Solid, Believable Challenges

Likewise, the gamification of learning has to consider the target user’s expected proficiency level throughout the simulation in order to provide a challenging, yet achievable learning experience. To put that in perspective, imagine starting the retro game Tetris on level 30 where the game pieces are falling at light speed…not too many players would have enough patience to stick it out and advance. There has to be a proper balance from beginning to end in order to keep the user completely engaged.

As one could imagine, establishing a proper learning curve for the average user is easier said than done. When we created the 3D Trauma Unit simulation for a private client, one of our main objectives was to ensure that the numerous challenges would all appear difficult, yet passable, as students advanced from one 3D simulation to the next. This allows interest levels to remain high while delivering a feeling of real accomplishment with each success.

Clear, Precise Feedback

gamification designing digitallyAnother important factor in the gamification model is giving the user exact feedback whenever they fail to grasp the complexity of the tutorial before them. This could happen for a number of reasons, and the gamer will quickly lose interest if an almost immediate solution is not available. After all, there’s nothing worse than investing some time in a software title, only to get stuck midway with no clear solution on how to advance.

At Designing Digitally, Inc., we test and re-test our software continually to ensure that the immersive user experience is second to none. For us, that means anticipating thousands of different scenarios where a user may encounter excess difficulties and ensuring that they always have options to become reengaged after every difficult obstacle. Our precise feedback is just one of the many reasons that our customer experience goes above and beyond the competition.