Gamification has been frequently talked about as one of the most happening trends in Learning and Development chapter. Research says that Gamification can help teach higher order skills in a fun based way. There have been some misconceptions about Gamification as to what are the prerequisites required to understand this subject.

Some of us feel that a expertise in the gaming domain is required to use this strategy. Is that true? I’ve taken part in some Gamification events where I’ve noticed that some of us get confused between the terms Game, Game-Based Learning, Simulations, and Gamification. This blog aims to provide an overview of these terms and tell you what is the expertise you should look for while attempting these. It is very important that you understand these before implementing any of these concepts to make a successful attempt.

1. Game


A Video Game is an electronic entertainment medium developed to engage the players who control a computer generated program. The primary purpose of a game is FUN, whereas it inherently develops higher order skills such as decision-making, risk taking, leadership development, team playing and many more.

Who can develop games?

You will require the following people in your team to successfully deploy a Game.

  • Game Designers
  • Game Developers/Programmers
  • Digital Artists (2D/3D)
  • Game Level Designers
  • Game Producer
  • Game Director
  • Story Writer
  • Audio Editing Expert
  • Voice-over Artists
  • Actors (as a reference for CG characters)

A few examples of games include Super Mario, Angry Birds, Temple Run, Call of Duty, Plants Vs Zombies, Candy Crush, Need for Speed and so on.

How much does it cost?

Games require a great amount of money, thought process and effort to develop since it requires a lot of creative people who are specially trained in their own domains.

2. Simulation


A Simulation is an imitation of real world process in a virtual world. Simulations are primarily used to train people on real life processes or systems in a risk-free environment. This gives them the freedom to make choices and explore the consequences. Simulations demand close to real life experiences and does not entertain any fictional elements.

Who can develop Simulations?

The following list of people contribute to developing a successful simulation based training.

  • Subject Matter Expert
  • Instructional Designer/Learning Designer
  • Authoring Tool Experts/Software Programmers
  • Digital artists (2D/3D)
  • Audio Editing Expert
  • Voice-over Artists

A few examples of simulations include Vehicle Simulations (car/flight/train…), Military Training Simulations, and Software Simulation Training.

How much does it cost?

Simulations involve development of virtual environments which takes a lot of effort however not much as required to develop a game. In a simulation the rules are straight forward asking the developer to program the virtual environment to behave exactly how a real one would respond. Where as in games, players have more freedom to explore various options which calls for even more effort from the developer.

3. Game-based Learning


It is a computer program that looks and works like an actual game but is developed to serve the purpose of learning. In a game-based learning program, FUN and knowledge are equally balanced to create an engaging experience. The players pursue their learning through a game in which they are engaged in an artificial conflict, with rules that define the program resulting in a quantifiable outcome.

Who can develop a GBL?

Developing a game-based learning program would require a team almost the same as in Video Game Development, along with specialists from Learning domain such as SMEs and Instructional Designers. The instructional designers/SMEs will work along with the game development team to create a serious game that aims to empower the learners or bring in a behavioural change.

A few examples of game-based learning include a 3D fire safety training game developed to train fire safety personnel on their daily procedures or the famous Edutainment program “Where in the world is carmen sandiego” which taught Geography and Reference skills to kids through a game.

How much does it cost?

GBL is a costly attempt and requires people from two completely different domains (games & learning) to come together and work as a team. A lot of brain storming has to be done in order to develop a game based learning and if time is a concern for you, this is not what you’re looking for.

4. Gamification


Gamification is use of game elements and game play mechanics in non-game contexts such as learning. Gamification adds the element of fun to learning while at the same time, not effecting the crucial learning cycle. It motivates the learners to participate actively in the learning program and keeps them focussed on getting the most out of the training.

Does Gamification require a new team?

A regular E-learning development team can very well be trained and used to implement Gamification strategy in your learning programs. Gamification is a strategy but not a technology/tool and hence doesn’t require you to hire someone from gaming domain. A proper training program to get your teams on mark with the concept will do.

Here are few examples of Gamification:

  • Providing rewards such as badges, points and trophies to your learners for their achievements in the course
  • Adding a story as a backdrop to your course which runs throughout to engage the learners in the content
  • Dividing your course topics into levels and allowing the learners to progress sequentially
  • Adding other game elements such as time in the assessments to keep your learners focussed on the topics being discussed
  • Creating a leaderboard that allows the learner to compare his score with other learners and motivate him to perform better

How much does it cost to do Gamification?

When we say Gamification, many people believe that it is a time and money consuming process. Like I said, Gamification is only a perspective or a strategy that asks you to look at a problem like a game. It is not technology dependent and can be developed using the same tools that you use to develop your current E-learning programs.To be even more clear, Gamification can be looked at as just another visualization/interaction strategy of an instructional designer which requires more programming skills from the developer and a little from the graphic designer to create.

Gamification may cost you more than what it does to develop a regular E-learning course. However the cost should be less compared to a game or game-based learning program while providing you a high ROI.

Finally, can simulations be called Gamification?

Simulations do involve one of the key game elements which is abstracted reality but this is just not enough to call it a gamified learning. However, with small modifications, gamification can be applied to a simulation based learning program.

For example, if you are developing a software simulation training, rather than sticking to the observe-try-perform approach, try adding a few game elements. Use a story to begin your training, may be you can show the scenario of a corporate employee (who matches the attributes of your learner). For successfully completing the assessments in the training, provide the learner with meaningful rewards. These small changes gamify your learning and makes it a memorable learning experience for your learner.

Do you still think Gamification requires you to hire a Game Designer? Got any more questions on how gamification can be used in learning domain? Please do ask.

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