4 Gamification Design Mistakes To Avoid Gamification is an integral part of the digital experience. But, overstuffing an instructional with badges, rewards, and levels doesn’t make your content more engaging. In fact, it may have the opposite effect. When you factor in leaderboards—which typically reward players who spend more time playing rather than win—gamification becomes even less useful to learners. Keep in mind that both negative motivation (fear factors) and positive motivation are not effective long-term drivers for behavior change or learning. You can learn more about this concept in Dr. Susan Weinschenk’s book 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People. So what do you need to keep in mind when designing gamification for learning? Gamification expert Gabe Zichermann sums it up well: Gamification design mistakes take several forms. You can blend, mashup or combine them into new mistakes that are even more interesting. The first mistake is to focus on the gamification mechanics without thinking about how they will be used in context of a specific instructional strategy. Gamified instruction can work to motivate learners—but only if you’re clear on the why and how of your goals. For example, Gamester Mechanic is an online game where kids build their own games as they learn basic programming concepts. It has six levels to teach various topics like logic gates and event triggers, but players aren’t required to complete all levels sequentially before moving onto something new. Gamestar Mechanic is an excellent example of how learning can be blended into a game in order to make it more engaging and engrossing. When thinking about gamification, ask yourself: Is your design goal motivated by increasing factual knowledge or by changing learners’ attitudes? Gamification design starts with the answer to this question. That’s why one size does not fit all. Gamified instruction should change behavior, but there are a number of ways to achieve that goal. Some gamification design patterns reward players for spending time with an app, while others encourage players to explore different concepts within content areas. Gamification design must account for the specific instructional objectives if you want to engage learners prior to teaching new information or skills. For example, evidence suggests that the Gamification should be used to motivate learners before they process new information. For other instructional objectives, like reinforcing students’ attitudes and beliefs, Gamification can play other roles as well. Gamified instruction is best used when it aligns with instructional strategy.
3 Gamification Design Mistakes To Avoid
As you design Gamification experiences for learning, avoid these common pitfalls: 1. Fixating on Leveling Up In many Gamification implementations players must complete a series of challenges in order to level up or progress forward—but this pattern doesn’t work for all learners. For example, Khan Academy lets players advance through content at their own pace. This open-ended approach works better for self-paced learners than a system where players must answer a certain number of questions or score a minimum percentage in order to move ahead. Gamified instruction must support your instructional strategy. For example, allowing players to progress through content at their own pace works better for learners who are self-paced; but if you want to teach students how to solve multi-step problems Gamification can motivate them during the process of solving problems by presenting challenges that lead students toward the ultimate goal. 2. Focusing on Points & Badges Points & badges are ubiquitous Gamification design patterns, but they don’t work well for every type of learner or learning goal—especially when points and badges aren’t tied to specific game objectives. Gamified apps like Class craft use points and badges as part of reward systems designed increase engagement and collaboration. Gamification design must focus on your instructional strategy. For example, Class craft uses points and badges as part of a reward system that increases engagement and collaboration. This Gamification pattern works well for the team-based learning approach employed by Classcraft because it motivates learners to work together to achieve common goals. In contrast, Gamification can be less effective if players are primarily motivated by earning points or collecting badges. 3. Using Gamified Instruction to Teach Pre-defined Skills Gamified instruction is most effective when players learn new skills without realizing they’re doing so—pre-determined skills don’t meet this requirement. Gamified apps like Duolingo use a language learning app that has been downloaded more than 200 million times because it lets players explore languages at their own pace. Gamification design must focus on your instructional strategy. Gamified instruction should help learners explore content, not teach pre-determined skills that they’ll need to complete a task or solve a problem. For example, Duolingo uses Gamification to let players explore languages at their own pace—and this approach has been very effective: the app has been downloaded more than 200 million times. In contrast, Gamification can be less engaging if it’s used as part of a practice session where learners are required to correctly answer questions in order to earn points and advance through levels. 4. Overstuffing an Instructional with Badges B etteridge Communications C omp is an international communications agency with Gamification at its core. Gamification can be a powerful tool for repeatable learning tasks because it motivates players to engage in the tasks they need to accomplish their goals—but Gamifying every task can become overwhelming. Gamified instruction must focus on your instructional strategy . For example, Gamification is an integral part of the digital experience at Betteridge , a UK-based communications agency that’s successfully using Gamification to motivate learners during front- and back-end marketing tasks. Gamified apps like this work well for marketers because there are many referral and onboarding tasks that Gamification can support without creating clutter or impairing content readability. In contrast, Gamification can be less effective if it’s used instead of good design practices. Players will disengage and leave a Gamification-driven instructional that’s crammed with badges and rewards.
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