Blog: Does Gamification Have a Role in Workplace Learning?

(From -- October’s Big Question on the Learning Circuits Blog has to do with gamification and its possible role in workplace learning. Does it have a role? In this post, I’ll weigh in on that question but only as it applies to formal e-learning.

The popular definition of gamification commonly refers only to the addition of game elements such as achievement badges or trophies, leaderboards, levels, game-like scoring and interactions, or social elements. Sites like Gamify and Badgeville perpetuate this kind of definition. The problem is that this definition doesn’t go far enough. The main challenge is that, by themselves, extrinsic gamification elements like levels and achievement badges can actually weaken the learner’s intrinsic motivation to learn the content. Sam Marshall has a good article that explains how this can happen in the context of intranets. There are other problems too. Thinking of gamification in this limited way is what gives the term gamification a bad name. I don’t think limited gamification like this has a role in workplace e-learning.

I prefer the broader Wikipedia definition, in which gamification is defined as the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences. In my view, gamification should primarily refer to the use of the much larger body of game design strategies and techniques, and how they may be used together effectively in e-learning (and including those surface-level game elements but only where appropriate). If this is how we define gamification, then I not only think there’s a role for gamification in the workplace, I think the revolution is already well underway!

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