Gamified learning: the top 5 benefits

Ellie Doyle, 3 min read
Uncompleted Rubik's Cube

Gamification. You’ve heard it everywhere. But trust me, it's for good reason.

Gamification is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a game-changer for education. It makes learning much more accessible for a wide range of people, making content easier to remember and apply, and engages the learner to complete modules.

By introducing game mechanics to workplace learning, you're encouraging friendly competition to your learners, while also offering them a more enjoyable way to get through mandatory learning. 

In fact, it's becoming so popular that the gamification market size is projected to grow from $9.1 billion USD in 2020, to $30.7 billion USD in 2025 - that's an annual rate of 27.4%! 

Such a massive growth in the market must be justified - so what exactly are the benefits of introducing gamification to your e-learning. Why, I'm so glad you asked!

Without further ado, here are our top 5 benefits of gamification:

1. Increases learner engagement by making learning fun

If you’re having trouble meeting completion rates with your workplace learning, it’s probably because your learners aren’t enjoying what they’re doing. It can be a bit of an uphill battle getting your team trained in a new skill or process - but gamification makes learning fun and keeps learners engaged.

A large factor in the growth of the gamification market is the inclusion of rewards and recognition to boost engagement. 83% of employees who receive gamified training feel more motivated to perform at work. Among those surveyed, rewards, badges, and leaderboards were the most motivating elements of gamification.

If a learner completes a section of training, or answers a question correctly, they are rewarded with points, which in turn boosts their spot on the leaderboard. I mean - who doesn't relish the thought of climbing a leaderboard?!

More on gamification's impact on engagement here

2. Improves knowledge retention

"If employers can find a way to make work feel like a fun game, they can increase their employees' ability to learn new skills by 40%". And who better to know this than founder and CEO of gamification consulting firm Dopamine Inc, Gabe Zichermann.

This also helps them to feel more engaged at work, stay at the company longer, and perform at high levels.

Most gamified learning is delivered in the form of microlearning; small bite-sized chunks of learning that can be learnt and refreshed easily. Microlearning increases retention in 2 ways: spaced repetition and retrieval practise. Spaced repetition is a technique that involves repeating information at strategic intervals throughout the learning process to strengthen retention. Retrieval practise is important to build bridges in your brain that access information quicker - active recall isn’t easy without practising!

Game-based learning is actually a learning aide! Presenting information in a task-based format, where a learner must respond to something correctly in order to proceed, focuses the learner to think critically which tricks the brain into paying special attention to the content. 

Think about it: when you’re playing Cluedo, your attention is 100% on remembering the facts and thinking about who the culprit is. It’s because you’re having fun, and trying to win. Naturally, you’re going to try harder to remember.

More on microlearning and knowledge retention here

3. Feedback

When you’re playing a game, you know if you’re winning. 

Gamification allows learners to get immediate feedback by seeing where they are ranked on the leaderboard. Straight away, there's a cause and effect: if you do something right, you get rewarded.

On a Yarno campaign, learners are given immediate feedback as soon as they answer a question - if they answer incorrectly, they are brought to the explainer page, which takes them through the correct answer and why it’s correct. They must read the explanation before they can answer the next question. Of course, those who answered correctly also get a chance to read the explainer page if they choose!

Immediate feedback is so important when you're learning something new. Any misconceptions are cleared up right away, and it helps the learner build correct mental models. It also encourages the learner to reflect on their learning, revisiting concepts until they have the correct answer.

No one likes hearing that they're wrong, so it's important to frame feedback as a learning opportunity, rather than a correction.

More on the importance of immediate feedback in learning here

4. Friendly competition

Healthy competition is the cornerstone of improving performance. Think about how many world records are broken at the Olympics - it’s because athletes are competing against the best of the best, that they are motivated to perform personal bests. It’s amazing how motivating a competitor is!

Often, gamified learning encourages competition amongst coworkers. Healthy competition in the workplace boosts morale, relieves stress, and strengthens relationships between coworkers. We're boosting teamwork, collaboration and making it easy for employees to learn new things here.

On a Yarno campaign, learners are ranked on a leaderboard, and they can see how many points they need to overtake the person ahead of them. This encourages daily engagement and retention of the content so they can climb that leaderboard and (try to!) take first place.

More on how competition fuels performance here

5. The freedom to guess and make mistakes 

A game environment allows the learner the freedom to make a mistake, empowering them to problem-solve and guess the correct answer in a safe environment without fear of repercussion. If Mario dies, you get multiple lives to complete the level. Same goes for gamified learning. 

If you’re running a learning campaign on safety processes, getting it  incorrect in the virtual environment doesn’t have the same real-world repercussions.

Failure is okay! In fact, it's encouraged. If a learner answers something incorrectly, they have the opportunity to receive feedback, learn the correct answer, and come back and answer correctly the next time. 

Having the freedom to make mistakes is the backbone of gaming, so being able to learn from them and try again is a benefit of gamification that other forms of learning tend not to offer. 

More on how the freedom to make mistakes helps learners here

Ellie Doyle

Ellie Doyle

Ellie is the resident Yarno wordsmith. If she's not writing a million words a minute, you'll probably find her trying to smash her New York Times daily crossword time while listening to 3 podcasts at once.

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