The Future of Creativity and Innovation is Gamification

Gabe Zichermann is the chair of GSummit where top gamification experts across industries gather to share knowledge and insight about customer & employee engagement and loyalty. He is also an author, highly rated public speaker and entrepreneur whose next book, The Gamification Revolution (McGraw Hill, 2013) looks at how leaders are leveraging gamification strategy to crush the competition. His books have helped define the industry’s standards and frameworks, and continue to be key reference materials today.


Gamification at work

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Gamification is a buzzword in business these days. Organizations are turning to gamification to engage their customers and motivate their employees. In this talk, Janaki will address what is gamification? Is it appropriate in the workplace? And what are some best practices that can help you design gamification that works!
Talk language: English

How Gamification Will Impact Corporate Learning


At Elearning Industry  Design, we have been crafting gamification for serious learning (corporate learning) for over two years now. We now see a maturing in corporates’ understanding of its true potential and how a well-crafted gamification solution can create the right learning impact. Today, gamification is poised to impact corporate learning. It is more than a buzz and is steadily gaining momentum on account of increase in adoption of mobile learning or mLearning and significant numbers of millennial learners in the overall learner demographics that are asking for it.

Ways In Which Gamification Impacts Corporate Learning   

In this article, I will share insights on how gamification is poised to impact corporate learning through the 4 key drivers that are pushing it (hence, why you should evaluate it/adopt it).


Before getting into the specifics of how gamification will impact corporate learning, let’s quickly look at the basics. I begin by using 3 questions from my article on Gamification For Serious Learning – 5 Facts That Will Impress Your Boss to set the context. Then we will look at the crucial fourth question on how exactly gamification will impact corporate learning.

Q1. What Is Gamification? 

Gamification is an alternate approach to traditional eLearning to provide engaging, immersive, and effective learning experience to your learners. By using gaming principles, elements, and innovative strategies, learners can be engaged and encouraged to apply this learning at work.

It provides an effective informal learning environment and helps learners practice real-life situations and challenges in a safe environment. Typical components of gamification-based learning courses are shown here.

Q2. What Are The Advantages Of Using Gamification Vis-A-Vis Traditional eLearning? 

Unlike traditional eLearning, gamification:

  1. Evokes friendly competition.
  2. Brings in a spirit of achievement.
  3. Enhances user engagement and can be used as a behavior change tool.
  4. Encourages learners to progress through the content, motivates action, influences behavior and drives innovation.

You can refer to my article Benefits Of Gamification In eLearning for more details.

Q3. How Does Gamification Impact Learning? 

There are several aspects of learning notably its retention, and eventual application on the job that can be influenced by gamification.


  1. Gamification puts scientific principles of repeated retrieval and spaced repetition to good effect and brings about a remarkable change in behavior.
  2. Games can be “fun” for the learner but still have a significant impact on learning. (The player can experience “fun” during the game and still experience “learning” during gameplay if the level of engagement is high.)
  3. Playing games with high levels of engagement leads to an increase in retention.

Q4. How Will Gamification Impact Corporate Learning? 

I am listing what I believe are the 4 key drivers that indicate how gamification will impact corporate learning.

  1. The gain for the learners (the learner perspective).
    The last 4-5 years have seen dramatic changes in the way learning is delivered. Extensive adoption of mobile learning or mLearning allows learning to be delivered on devices of learners’ choice (including tablets and smartphones). The way learning solutions are being crafted is also undergoing a significant change. The focus is now on crafting more engaging and immersive learning solutions that appeal to the changing learner demographics, which now has a significant percentage of Millennials. Increasingly, modern day solutions use micro learning and feature extensive usage of videos and social learning. Both these factors provide a clear room to provide gamification-based learning that can be deployed on mobile devices in formats that appeals to the learners. It can be crafted in a style that resonates well with the learners leading to higher retention and application.
  • The gain for business (the business perspective).
    While gamification-based learning has always appealed to the learner community, corporates have often been hesitant to embrace this on a wider scale. Not anymore! There are several case studies that establish gamification (for serious learning) creates:

    • High impact training.
    • Effective application on the job.
  • Maturing of tools and technologies to support gamification-based solutions.
    This is a very significant driver and today it is much easier to craft effective gamification solutions on account of:

    • Maturing of mLearning or mobile learning authoring tools (particularly responsive).
    • Availability of varied gamification platforms to choose from.
    • Learning Management System support for gamification.
  • Capability to create high impact learning solutions.
    With gamification, the learner engagement quotient is significantly high. It allows organizations to challenge the learners, get them to give their very best as there are rewards for the taking, bring in a sense of variety, and use the community factor and healthy competition among learner groups to good effect. Higher motivation levels and a responsive learning environment will help learners make their own contributions to the organization’s knowledge base. A well-crafted gamification solution designed with the learner preferences in mind will certainly result in higher learner engagement and knowledge retention. This in turn leads to enhanced performance, better application of learning, and fulfillment of the expectations that an organization has with its workforce and the learning initiative.

Specifically, gamification can:

  • Support all training needs (ranging from Induction, onboarding, behavioral change, soft skills and compliance).
  • Enrich traditional eLearning-based training (through partial gamification).
  • Enrich ILT trainings (through gamified assessments).
  • Leverage on learning paths (with wide and varied range of learning assets).
  • Leverage on collaboration (social learning).

Gamification in Education: the good,the bad, and the ugly


The good…

  • Gamification can help at any educational stage
    From toddlers identifying colors, letters and numbers, through to teenagers learning algebra, to student pilots using simulators.
  • Gamification helps both ways of gaining knowledge: being taught, and self-learning
    With self-learning, especially when it’s online or digital, gamification provides badly-needed interactivity between a student and the ‘instructor’, even when the latter’s actually just game-based logic. It can also help teachers, by reducing some of the responsibility to keep students motivated and involved, and providing welcome variety in pace and style.
  • It can add layers of engagement for students
    Gamification can increase understanding. Instead of just reading on the topic, students are actually doing something while going through the same content. It can also increase awareness, putting students into scenarios that make them do and understand things which, in normal computer-based training, they might ‘tune out’.
  • It can work outside the classroom too
    Gamification can reward many school-related issues, not just knowledge acquisition. For example students with perfect attendance records, or who hand in all homework assignments on time, could earn bonus “points”, which can accrue towards some form of reward scheme.

The bad

  • Repetition can reduce interest
    The problem with some gamification schemes is that, once the initial novelty has worn off, they can become repetitive and actually disengaging. This matters if you need students to use them several times to gain sufficient depth of understanding.
  • Losing and learning don’t always mix!
    The point of education is to motivate students to achieve. This doesn’t necessarily sit well with ‘games’, which usually involve an aspect of losing as well as winning.

The ugly

  • Gamification can get in the way
    Gamification is meant to add an aspect of interactivity to a task (i.e. learning or understanding something). Pure gaming, on the other hand, is pretty much an end in itself. If the balance tilts towards the latter, then a student isn’t benefitting in a genuinely useful way. They’re just playing.
  • If the gamification is poor, it can adversely affect how students perceive the content
    Students are savvy and ruthlessly aware when something’s inferior. If they regard the gamification element as ‘rubbish’, then their opinion of the content it’s meant to support could also be tainted.

Introduction to Gamification




Education affects everyone. It’s how humans learn both explicit material (facts, dates, formulas, methods) and implicit material (critical thinking, attitudes, judgment). It is important, though, to resist conflating the ideas of learning and education, especially regarding gamification. Learning, or the process of experiences translating into long-term behavior, takes place as soon as life begins. Even conditions in the womb will affect behavior in the future. Education, however, is a more formal process of learning being passed down from one generation to the next and is the process we will be discussing here.

A student’s ability to be successful educationally largely depends on how that particular student retains the information he or she receives from an educator. In return, the student’s ability to retain information largely depends on the mode of learning that suits the individual.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is adding game-like mechanics to non-game experiences to encourage a specific behavior and motivate learners. This does not mean you are having your learners play games. What it does mean is you are taking motivational elements from games, such as badges or achievements, and incorporating them to encourage your learners to perform a specific behavior.

An example of this in a web-based training application would be awarding learners badges for completing sections of training, and posting their scores to a leaderboard. These actions encourage learners and keep them engaged.

A more “real life” example would be Boy Scout badges the scouts receive upon completion of a specific task. The game-like mechanic (the badge), encourages and rewards the scout to perform a specific behavior (say, the ability to tie a certain knot).


  Why Gamification?


  1. Better learning experience.

The learner can experience “fun” during the game and still learn if the level of engagement is high. A good gamification strategy with high levels of engagement will lead to an increase in recall and retention.

  1. Better learning environment.

Gamification in eLearning provides an effective, informal learning environment, and helps learners practice real-life situations and challenges in a safe environment. This leads to a more engaged learning experience that facilitates better knowledge retention.

  1. Instant feedback.

It provides instant feedback so that learners know what they know or what they should know. This too facilitates better learner engagement and thereby better recall and retention.

  1. Prompting behavioral change.

Points, badges, and leaderboards would surely make training awesome. However, gamification is about a lot more than just those surface level benefits. Gamification can drive strong behavioral change especially when combined with the scientific principles of repeated retrieval and spaced repetition.

  1. Can be applied for most learning needs.

Gamification can be used to fulfill most learning needs including induction and onboarding, product sales, customer support, soft skills, awareness creation, and compliance.

  1. Impact on bottom-line.

On account of all these aspects that touch and impact learners (better learning experience, higher recall and retention, catalyzing behavioral change, and so on), it can create a significant performance gain for the organization.

How to gamify?


Depending on how much game like features are required, one or more of the following can be done

  • Add points to tasks that need to be completed
  • Define badges/rewards to be given out after a criteria is met
  • Create a Leaderboard to show top performers
  • Define levels to repeat tasks or to perform harder tasks
  • Earning of badges can be tied to unlocking higher levels

Success factors

The mantra to succeed in using gamification in eLearning is to create a concept that:

  • Captures (and retains) learners’ attention
  • Challenges them
  • Engages and entertains them, and
  • Teaches them

How can gamification help?

Gamification can accentuate the user experience one has with instructor led courses by introducing a level of interactivity and practice. This reduces the burden on the instructor a little bit to keep the attendees motivated and involved. In instructor led courses, gamification can also be the appropriate transition from one module to another or from one instructor to the next.

In computer based courses, games provide the much needed interactivity between the participants and also the ‘instructor’. Here, the instructor need not be an actual person but game based logic that can help a participant when they do not understand something or need help.

Difference between games and gamification

The following table lists the differences between an actual game and gamification

Game Gamification
Games have defined rules & objectives May just be a collection of tasks with points or some form of reward
There is a possibility of losing Losing may or may not be possible because the point is to motivate people to take some action and do something.
Sometimes just playing the game is intrinsically rewarding Being intrinsically rewarding is optional.
Games are usually hard and expensive to build Gamification is usually easier and cheaper
Content is usually morphed to fit the story and scenes of the game Usually game like features are added without making too many changes to your content

Types of Players

Games in general have four types of players, based off different personality types:


  • Achievers – Need to be at the top
  • Explorers – Need to find something new
  • Socializers – Need to interact with others
  • Killers – Need to eliminate other characters

For education based games, only Achievers and Explorers are the primary types of players. To understand why, let’s think this through. First of all educational games have a purpose beyond entertainment. So let’s see how each of our player types measure up to this new purpose.


  • An Achiever will do whatever it takes to complete the course.
  • An Explorer will explore all that the game has to offer thereby covering the whole course.
  • The Socializer will work with all the other players of the game but may not complete the course.
  • The course will have nothing that will motivate the Killer to complete it. Achievers and Explorers are the only types of players valid for educational games

Player Lifecycle

In a social game, there is a defined player lifecycle.

  • Newbie – Players new to the game. They need some hand holding. Initial levels need to be easy and help players get familiar with the game.
  • Regular – After players get to know the game, it needs to become a habit for them. The next few levels need to provide satisfaction as per the player type.
  • Enthusiast – These players have pretty much mastered the game and need new twists and challenges to continue playing

In an educational game, the player lifecycle is a little different.

  • Newbie – Players new to the game. They need some hand holding. Initial levels need to be easy and help players get familiar with the game.
  • Regular – Here, regular players are those who are familiar with the game and are working to complete the course.


Educational Games Example

–  Sony Wonderbook

Sony has launched a new device called Wonderbook. It is a device that hooks up with their PS3. It is meant to create a virtual world allowing people to view and participate in the stories of the book instead of just reading it. This participation allows the outcome of the book to be different like a game. Most notably, Sony has partnered with JK Rowling to create a wonderbook for her Book of Spells.

–  World Peace Game

John Hunter has created a board game called World Peace Game to teach 4th graders about by being future leaders by simulating real world scenarios. Some of the documented results from the game are

  • Students solving global warming
  • One student pre-empted a globally catastrophic war by blocking supplies to the offending country
  • Students shared resources with countries in need to bring overall prosperity to all countries

Due to this, John Hunter has been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 12 education activists to watch in 2012.

– Ananth Pai

Ananth Pai is a 3rd grade teacher. He has incorporated games to teach his students about reading and mathematics. The result is that within 4.5 months Mr. Pai’s class went from being a below average 3rd grade class to a mid-level 4th grade class.














































10 Surprising Benefits Of Gamification

This is the post excerpt.

asGamification isn’t just about rapid consumption of micro-learning modules or supercharging employee performance. Not even about “fun” style of Pokemon Go. It also has significant effects on corporate culture and workplace design. Here are 10 of the most surprising benefits of gamification.

Surprising Benefits Of Gamification

Even though gamification at work is becoming more and more well known in the world of business, there are still those that perceive it as a simple tool, leveraging competitiveness to motivate employees (it actually doesn’t, but rather promotes intrinsic drives, but that is a different story). As I’ve written in numerous articles over the past few months, this is both an erroneous perception of gamification and of digital motivation. The new and exciting field of enterprise gamification takes a different approach to employee motivation. This approach believes that it is not enough to offer employees points, badges, and leaderboards in order to create a lasting impact in the organization. The reason for this is that these mechanics, though useful and effective in their own right, are based on extrinsic motivation within employees, and this type of motivation is not as sustainable and efficient as other types of motivation, such as intrinsic motivation. Research shows that using game mechanics the instill a sense of meaning, provide a feeling of mastery, promote autonomy, and create super-engagement. In addition, gamification can also be used to influence an organization’s culture, communication, and performance management. Since many in the public are less familiar with these advantages of gamification, I thought I’d create a list of all the lesser-known, but highly valuable, results of this practice. Following are 10 surprising benefits of gamification.

  1. Objectivity

Part of implementing gamification is a transition to constant and automatic data collection. This can be data about anything in your organization – sales reps productivity rates, call center employees handling times, internal knowledge usage rates, and more. Although this is many times overlooked, this is in itself extremely valuable. For many organizations, this is the first time they can paint an objective picture of how they are actually doing. This means that employee ratings are no longer based on a manager’s mood or the chemistry in a team, but on real, hard data. We’ve learnt to expect surprises as part of this process. Almost every organization that undergoes this transition is surprised to find that what they thought was happening is not quite accurate and sometimes even fairly far from reality.

  1. Gamification And Objectivity Make Managers’ Lives Easier

Objective data is a blessing for managers as well. They can also finally see in an unbiased and objective way, how their different employees are performing, eliminating the need for guesswork and assumptions. It’s amazing to discover that much of the data in performance reviews is not objective.

  1. Feedback

Gamification is a great way for employees to receive constant, up to date, and automatic feedback. By using leaderboards of different kinds, it is possible for employees to see how they are doing compared to benchmarks they had set for themselves in the past, or compared to other individuals and teams in the organization. Of course, it’s always also possible to revert to the “classic” leaderboard that so many are familiar with. However, we have actually found that using these more advanced leaderboards brings on greater results and productivity. Feedback is one of the most important elements of gamification, as it allows users to constantly understand how they are doing and what they can do improve.

  1. Recognition

Research has found that status at the workplace is just as important to employees as financial rewards. In other words, it is important to all of us to feel that we are doing a good job, and that this is being recognized by our managers. Gamification is a great way to see who is performing especially well, who has made huge progress in comparison to themselves, and who may have drifted off and might need a bit of a wake-up call. The real beauty is that it’s all done automatically, and therefore it is super easy for managers to use.

  1. Mastery

One of the reasons that the human race has always loved playing games is the possibility to improve. The feeling of developing a certain skill is one of the most important aspects of fulfillment and well-being at the workplace. Gamification allows us to learn new things, and see how they are becoming easier and easier as time goes by. Before we know it, what used to be extremely challenging is now done easily, with almost no effort at all. This is what researchers at the university of Chicago have called “flow”, and it turns out to be an important factor in employee well-being.

  1. Motivation For All

When gamification is executed correctly, there really is something for everyone. Working against personal benchmarks, being recognized for a job well-done, offering training narratives – gamification really can cater to everyone’s needs in the organization. Together with the ability to view feedback at any given time, gamification allows everyone, and not only those at the top of leaderboard, to enjoy the possibility of improving their performance.

  1. What’s Next?

One of the most surprising benefits of gamification is that it is a great way to communicate to employees what is expected of them next. Whether utilized as part of the onboarding process, the internal learning system, or the project management system, gamification offers a simple way to communicate what the next stage is. For some examples of how to show what’s next through a “Next Best Action” functionality, read here.

  1. Autonomy

Gamification should not feel like it is mandatory. A good platform is one that emphasizes that taking part in the game is voluntary. We’ve found that giving employees the power to choose for themselves how they would like to utilize gamification instills a sense of autonomy and choice. We believe that creating a host of options and allowing users to engage as they please creates deeper and more meaningful engagement and motivation.

  1. Training

A recent survey has shown that Millennials rank training and learning as the most important benefit a workplace can offer. Organizations understand this, and more and more are offering their employees different personal and professional development routes. Organizations are now also able to do this like never before, using eLearning platforms that are cost effective, and that can be integrated in to other aspects of work. Through different mechanics such as quizzes and simulations, this type of learning is also more engaging and more enjoyable. Finally, eLearning also allows employers to easily measure how their employees are doing and progressing in the learning process.

  1. Balancing It Out

Many employees are required to perform different tasks which many times can involve conflicting expectations. For example, a customer service representative needs to resolve issues fast, but also receive a high customer satisfaction rate. Using gamification, it is possible to track many different elements and balance them. An employee can see that they are relatively fast, but have a problem with how satisfied customers are once they get off the phone with them. Seeing many KPI’s at the same time can help employees get a snapshot of how they are doing overall, and alter what needs to be changed.