gaming

5 Key Benefits That Gamification Brings To Your Business

5 Key Benefits That Gamification Brings To Your Business

Gamification is no longer just a buzzword. It has found some real and interesting applications in the domains of learning, marketing, personality development, data analytics and so on. The right implementation of this concept can generate powerful results and do wonders for your business.

Here are the 5 key benefits that Gamification will bring to your business.

1. Making the mundane interesting

The game-based interactive elements add thrill and fun to the otherwise mundane processes. Whether the task is about conducting a survey or employee training, gamification makes the process more interesting as the knowledge is supplied non-intrusively, thereby yielding better results.

2. Sustainability

Using Gamification in your company is a strategy for sustainability. The games are re-playable and are built using real-life scenarios. They can be played again and again for performance improvement without incurring additional costs on the company.

3. Real-time analytics

A gamified campaign will allow you to target particular user groups of your interest and get real-time feedback. You can analyze the user behavior and draw inferences. Such feedback is a powerful contributor in designing your business’ future strategies.

4. Self-motivated work force

These games are built with features like leaderboard, award system, etc that reward the employees on their accomplishments. This keeps each employee self-motivated and self-aware about his/her performance.

5. High productivity and ROI

These games can be customized to align with your business objectives. Gamification’s unique features directly link the company’s objectives to the employee performance, thereby increasing the overall productivity. Any initial investment made to include game-based learning in your business is easily replenished along with a high ROI.

I guess that’s all! If you think of any more, please share with me!

A Day in the Life of a Serious Game Developer

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If you are in the serious gaming industry, then probably, you would be familiar with this conversation.

(The conversation starts with me saying that I work with a serious gaming company)

The Other Guy: So, you develop games like Angry Birds? Which one have you developed?

Me (Exasperated already): No! We develop serious games. Not the fancy ones like Angry Birds or Candy Crush.

The Other Guy: Serious Games? What is it?

Me: These are games which are developed for purpose other than entertainment. These are games for training, research or marketing. In other words, these games are not just for fun, but for solving real world problems.

The Other Guy: Real world problems? Oh! Never heard about them. Seems like a new concept.

Me: Many think so, but it’s not. It’s been used since the 19th century, mostly for military or defence purpose. You know, Prussian forces used to have one called Kriegsspiel‘. But the buzz around serious games began once the digital scenario started booming. The term ‘Serious Game‘ was coined in 2001 and then it was adopted increasingly by different industries.

The Other Guy: Whoa! I had no clue. By the way, do these games work? I mean, after all these are just games!

Me: Well, you are right! These are just games. Only, they have a serious purpose. Serious games use entertainment and engagement to convey serious and strategic information or achieve communication objectives.

The Other Guy: I am not sure I understand it.

Me: Alright! So tell me, why is a game fun?

The Other Guy: Because … it is a fun activity which you play and try to win.

Me: There you go, my friend! In any game, you play to win. You make decisions or plan moves in order to win. Serious games work in a similar fashion, except, it delivers some kind of learning using the same mechanism. Amusement is secondary here, and yet it is the secret ingredient that makes serious games work. That’s the reason why we use games to teach our kids. Don’t you think? It makes boring stuff interesting!

The Other Guy: You have a point! Can you name any of these games?

Me: Yes, there are many out there! There’s this puzzle game called ‘Foldit’ which explains how protein folding happens in a human body. Even games like ‘Need for Speed’ can be termed as ‘Serious Games’ …

The Other Guy (Not letting me complete my sentence): Need for Speed? What does one learn from it? I have been playing that one for years!

Me (Now Frustrated): While playing the game, have you noticed advertisements for Porsche or any other racing cars?

The Other Guy: Yes! They’re always there!

Me: That’s the purpose. Need for Speed is an Advergame, a version of serious games, that is used for advertising brands. There are many out there! Even Movies come up with games for promotional purpose. Iron Man has done it. The Harry Potter game was a rage when it was released few years back.

The Other Guy: I remember that one!

This is how it starts and continues … But in most cases, at this point, either I am bored to continue or the other guy is!

So, have you ever had a conversation like this?

Serious Games, Now and Then …

ptotem

It’s time to go back to the future of Serious Games! Here are a few predictions, or rather guesses of mine on how serious games might redefine the e-learning scenario.

Going Mobile

Serious games are now being integrated with mobile learning platforms and this is really going to change the game! Workforces will perform better with learning on the go. And as gadgets evolve, so will learning. Another important development would be Augmented Reality (AR), which would find more avenues than ever.

Going Social

Serious games and Gamification have been the buzz words for quite some time now. They will go a step further. Apps and Software would be integrated with LMS, and game based learning will be seen across social media, mobile app stores, etc. Imagine, learning using Facebook or may be, on Facebook itself!

HTML5

HTML5 (few term it as the language of the future), much speculated over the past couple of years, has done quite well. We will now see it being embraced extensively, across the sectors. Content authoring tools (especially the cloud ones) would adopt HTML5 for better interactivity and media integration.

Increased Collaboration

Learning on the job, through social media and other informal environments is already an established practice now. But in the coming years, social media will become a tutoring space. Content which was earlier restricted within an LMS will now become easier to access. The number of platforms for elearning and serious games would increase, giving way to more and more collaborative efforts.

New and Enhanced Tools

Tools to create e-Learning platforms have been evolving fast. The advancement in technologies would encourage the development of better and efficient tools for critical tasks like designing graphics for serious games, making mobile learning effective, developing serious games, authoring on the go (cloud authoring), etc. Get ready. Lots of goodies are coming your way!

Developments in Design

Responsive design for e-learning platforms and tools was a recent breakthrough and more will be following up. Learning would become on the go bringing in ‘Just-in-time’ mode of learning as opposed to ‘Just-in-case’ mode. Also, better designing tools would pave the way for more advances in design.

Videos in Serious Games

Video lectures have been around for a while, but going ahead, interactive courses using video would be the order of the day. You will see small bits of content in video formats created and shared for easy content dissemination.

Analytics and Serious Games

E-learning would no longer be only about online learning or on the go learning. Analytics/ Reporting would emerge as a dominant aspect of any training activity. Reporting systems would be personalised based on the organisation’s requirement. Integrating the LMS with another systems like LDAP or Performance Management System will help the organization track an employee’s growth at a more structured and cohesive level.

Tin Can API

One of the major issues faced by today’s e-learning industry is how to merge offline and online learning experiences. Tin Can API (also known as Experience APIs), released last year as an e-learning software specification, allows learning content and learning systems to communicate with each other. This means that informal learning will be tracked extensively; once more and more tools, systems, platforms, vendors and institutions start supporting Tin Can. Apps will be able to make learning even more personal with Tin Can. A set of ideal practices will evolve in serious gaming so that different systems can work in together.

That’s all from my end! If you could think of any more, feel free to share with me!

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for eLearning

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1. Old powerpoints stink

Making a training presentation and putting it up online, doesn’t really constitute e-learning. PowerPoint presentations aren’t the most effective tool when it comes to learning as it doesn’t have a multi-sensory approach which can challenge, engage, inform and test the learner.

2. Hiring the Right talent

There are 3 major roles when it comes to designing training: Subject Matter Expert (SME), the Instructional Designer (ID) and the Designer. Each person has its own expertise and input when it comes to designing the final product. It is your discretion to choose which role you want to give the most importance to.

3. Keep the content small and concise

Large chunks of information aren’t palatable when it comes to explaining a large amount of information to people, especially new people. The best way to work around that is to use smaller chunks of information. You can use bullet points or you can use a step-by-step process to explain the same information.

4. Brand your Training

With all the material that you put out, keep your brand logo/name on every page as it will show that the training that you are providing is company specific and not generic.

5. Create hands on Demo

Create demos and interactive manuals for hands-on experience as it aids the learning process. Develop a simulation. It is interactive and engaging. Simulations make the trainee feel safe as it is a controlled environment.

6. Use meaningful Graphics

Use graphics only if they contribute something to learning. The graphic needs to pass a simple test: Can a learner look at the image and understand the concept of the training page without reading the text? If not, then don’t use it!!!

7. Have Standards and be Consistent

While designing the training, develop a certain format, i.e. colours, fonts, sizes, layout, template and stick to it. Standardisation helps the learner become familiar with the learning material.

8. Use Scenarios and Case Studies

Use real life scenarios to hold the interest of the trainee. Here’s why it works – if it relates to their life, then they care about it; and if they care about it, then they are interested in it.

9. Use Learning Games

Make the demos into games or serious games, as it engages of the user and makes him involved in the outcome of the exercise. It provides a break in the monotony from the usual reading and graphs hence, engages the learners in a much better way. (You can check out a few learning games here – www.ptotem.com)

10. Certify the participant’s knowledge

Score the tests and evaluations. Quantify their performance. It gives the trainee something to aim for. It is also the best way to see results when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of the learning. Make people aware of their results by either making them take the test again if they don’t score well or by issuing a certificate for scoring a high score.

The 10 Best Practices to Implement Gamification

Gamification is not a magic lamp. It won’t solve your problems overnight. But if you plan and use it well, it will serve its purpose.

Here are the 10 best practices which you can use while implementing gamification.

  1. Identify the success criteria: Define success i.e. what you intend to achieve through the activity. It is important to know the parameters of a successful outcome. Without having a clear cut desired result, you can’t find out whether the activity was successful or not.
  2. Consider alternatives: Always explore the alternatives. DO NOT jump the wagon. Many a times, people ignore simple and effective learning solutions just because they find a new trend catching up. Use gamification only if it makes sense and will add on to the activity. If you think the alternative is much more effective, use that!
  3. Creating a tie-in to business needs: Any activity has to tie-in with the business goals. Make sure the gamification also does. Do not use gamification just to make your content interesting. It has no value if it does not push your business forward.
  4. Create a story/context: We all love stories! Develop a story around your gamification activity. Tell people the context. Give them a purpose, a reason to interact with your content. Tell them why they are earning points, saving someone or conquering something.badges1
  5. Use science to advance learning: Remember the 2 mantras – Spaced Retrieval and Retrieval Practice. Spaced retrieval helps a learner retain access to the memorized information over long periods of time because it promotes a deeper understanding of the learned material. Retrieval practices encourage a learner to recall information rather than simply re-read or re-listen to it.
  6. Make scoring and winning transparent: Make scoring easy! The learner should know how his actions are related to the scores. So, he will know exactly what he needs to do in order to be successful. Also, try different scenarios. Make sure you have covered up all the possible issues that could arise when a learner is doing the activity.
  7. Keep the rules simple: Really simple! Avoid complexity. Always provide a tutorial so that the learner can learn the rules beforehand and perform better. This will also help you prevent any kind of frustration that a learner might develop due to lack of knowledge of the rules.
  8. Keep leaderboards small: No one is really interested in the world rankings unless he’s up there. Keep the leaderboards customizable and personalized. The learner should be able to see his position, his friends’ position along with the top 5 performers.
  9. Use levels and badges appropriately: Give the learner a goal and the number of levels he will need to complete before the learning is over. Badges can be tied to either levels or enabling objectives. Badges are also a good way to show off your prowess to your friends and colleagues.
  10. Test your game before you release it: It is a good way to find flaws, cheats and shortcuts that you might have overlooked. Human Beings are the most creative and lazy people imaginable as we look for a better/faster way to achieve the same result.

What is a Game?

A Serious game is a game which serves a purpose other than pure amusement. This purpose could be learning, data collection, skill development, etc. The idea is to take a mundane approach that is usually employed for such serious objectives and wrap it into a game. So, to conceptualize a serious game, it is important to first drill down to what is considered a game.

Merriam Webster gives a simple definition : activity engaged in for diversion or amusement.

Fat help that is. We need to get a little more technical …

Salen & Zimmerman gives : A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome. Now we are talking!

What is a game?

We have built an infographic (above) which does a chunk down analysis of the concept of a “GAME”.

It breaks down the game into its constituents: Medium, Story, Game World, Role Play, Head Count, Game Time, Activities, Objectives, Opposition, Currency, Game Mechanics, Game Progression, Rewards, Punishments, Victory Conditions and Game Scores.

This is the first of a series of infographics which will focus on distilling out the exact process of developing and iterating a Serious Game. Feel free to use this graphic as is anywhere, for personal or commercial purposes.