A man playing a computer game

5 Tips for Game-Based eLearning

Interactive programs engage learners and help them remember key information

Read the article below, which originally appeared on TrainingIndustry.com, to learn five key tips for game-based eLearning and how to design a successful eLearning course.  

Successful employees make a successful business. eLearning courseware that engages your employees will cultivate productivity and success in the workplace. One great way to engage learners is to turn training into a game.

When designed properly, game-based courses can bring learning, fun and motivation to the workplace. Partnering with an experienced eLearning provider can make the process of creating an eLearning course seamless. Additionally, localization service providers can help create engaging eLearning programs for employees in any culture or in any language.

Engaging learners with an interactive game can stimulate productivity gains and reinforce learned skills. However, it is important to avoid certain pitfalls and include key elements to create a successful game-based course that is enjoyable and relevant to players.

When creating a game-based eLearning course, keep these five tips in mind to maximize the program’s benefits.

A man playing a computer game

5 Tips for Game-Based Learning

1. Decide between game-based Learning or gamifying an existing program.

Although game-based learning and gamification sound very similar, there is an important distinction between the two. Game-based learning creates an interactive experience within a gaming framework and has specific learning objectives and measurable outcomes. Gamification, on the other hand, involves adding game elements or mechanics to a topic to increase engagement or enjoyment of that topic.

For example, adding gamified elements—like a drag and drop feature or asking users to pick from a list of options—does not qualify as game-based learning. These gamified elements may foster greater engagement with participants, but true game-based learning involves creating a new gameplay and writing a strategy with rules and structure to teach a new concept.

A number of factors, such as the desired outcome of the program or available resources to invest in it, may impact which path you choose. Game-based eLearning is typically more efficient at teaching employees new skills, but comes with a greater cost of investment. For simple programs, gamifying an existing program may be more suitable.

2. Choose the desired outcome for your game.

Creating a clear roadmap for your game before designing it is essential to ensuring it achieves its goals. Should users discover a new topic? Develop a new skill? Reinforce existing skills? It can be easy to get caught up in designing an enjoyable, interactive game without carefully considering what players should take away from the experience.

In addition to choosing a desired outcome, decide how to measure that outcome. Will players win or lose? Will they complete an assessment at the end to determine whether new skills were learned? By developing a clear framework for progress, it will be easier to measure if the game-based course is actually achieving the desired outcome.

Engaging learners with an interactive game can stimulate productivity gains and reinforce learned skills.

3. Include all key elements for a game-based course: mechanics, space, goals, rules and components.

A true game-based course needs to go beyond simple gamification elements and incorporate these five key elements.

  • Mechanics specify how a game will work: For example, if a player hits a particular button, what will happen next? How does the game progress, and how does it lead to a specific outcome?
  • Space is the realm the game takes place in, and how a player occupies that space while the game is being played.
  • Goals are the reason for playing the game. What is the player’s desired outcome? Are there multiple goals to achieve over the course of the game?
  • Rules are what govern how the game functions. What is possible in the game? What happens when a player completes a specific action? What are the ways to win or lose?
  • Components are the elements that make up a game. These can include the players, characters players interact with or items used by the player.
A person using a game controller

4. Avoid common missteps in game-based design, such as misusing motivators or making the game too difficult.

Motivators may be essential to ensure a user completes the desired outcome of the game. But be careful to match the motivators up with the target audience for the game: For example, think of an online education game with a parrot as a mascot. For every incorrect answer, the parrot squawks and shakes its feathers. Young children, the target audience for this game, would be more likely to click the incorrect answer simply to see the parrot squawk, even if they knew the correct answer.

When considering your audience and which motivators to use, keep in mind that game-based learning works best for short-term productivity gains rather than long-term benefits.

5. Make sure not to trivialize serious issues.

When creating a game-based eLearning course with a serious topic—such as road safety, or mining operations—the desire to create an exciting, interactive game must be balanced with the need to convey the severity of the topic. When tackling these harder topics, consider the program from every perspective to ensure no offense could possibly be taken by the game players.

Keep in mind that game-based learning works best for short-term productivity gains rather than long-term benefits. 

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Abhilasha Choudhary
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Abhilasha Choudhary