Joshua Yap

Why use Gamification Software in Learning?

- 2021-03-31 15:05:05



In a simple word, to gain better engagement from your employees. An excerpt from Kapp, Karl M's book 'The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook.' mentioned several points of what the public thought of gamification. 'They are cool, awesome, fun, and neat.', 'Because everyone is doing it.', 'The learning will be effortless.' and 'It's easy to design them.' This reasoning is not valid in most cases. It is only part of the reason but not entirely. 

Difference between Games vs. Game-Based Learning (GBL) vs. Gamification

For games, the focus is always on the player's experience. All games share the need for a better player experience. 

For Serious games, it is common during learning. For example, you have medical school students playing simulations to improve their surgery skills. Students will use Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality as a medium to learn faster compared to traditional methods. The U.S military also uses a game called America's Army to hire and train their recruits.  

Whereas game-based learning (GBL) is solely for learning how to achieve specific objectives. The core difference between different forms of games is their processes and purposes. 

Engagement and Motivation 

The Challenge level is the difficulty of completing a specific task—for example, the challenge level between cooking a steak and Instant Noodle. It is easier to cook and prepare an instant noodle than steak because of the preparation time, resulting in a different challenge level. 

The Skill level is the amount of skill required to solve specific challenges. Having a low skill level is having apathy and boredom. Taking the same cooking context, if you were to ask a 5-star chef to cook an instant noodle, it would probably be relaxing for him/her. 

Gamification uses the Skill Level and Challenge Level diagram. What we want to achieve are engagement and motivation. Quote from Karl M., 'To create interactivity in learning delivery.', 'Overcoming disengagement.', 'Providing opportunities for deep thoughts and reflection.', and 'Positively change behavior.'. 

Imagine in class, lecturers having the opportunities to have deep thoughts and provide feedback on improving students' engagement. Deep thoughts are also a part of creative thinking and analytic thinking. 

Reason of Gamification

The very fundamental of gamification is to understand the user type and their learning preferences. Plus, the main reason for implementing gamification is to create interactivity in learning delivery and to tackle low engagement. At the same time, creating opportunities for deep thought and reflection. Not only that, learning becomes a two-way street.

Brain Dominance Thinking

One's perception and thought process dramatically affect the way one learns. For example, if a lecturer used an organized and sequential method to tutor a student who thinks holistically, intuitively, and integratively. It will not be effective because it does not resonate with how the learning delivery is delivered and perceived. 

Bartle user type

A Bartle's Player Types can be used to the difference between user type; 

i) Killer - Learns by completing challenges and competitions. They like to win and achieve the highest score.

ii) Achiever - Status and recognition are what they aim to win.

iii) Explorer - Explorer loves discovering and supporting new things. Often, they prefer to act by their own volition. 

iv) Socializer - These individuals love to form a group and work best within a structured team. Collaboration is their key to success. 


The challenge with gamification is that similar mechanics are not applicable for different user types. The more you understand your user, the better the engagement will be. Content planning, creation, and design use a similar approach as above. Some people like to express, compete, explore or collaborate. 


Piggyback on habits, study their daily routine.

Habit plays a huge role in gamification. The three ways to design gamification is to make references to your audience's routine. Identify the relevant patterns and unmet needs, then look for emotional and situational triggers. A user persona will come in handy too. Netflix is one of the best real case scenarios whereby they determine a person's habit by the type of show they watch, the time they log into Netflix, watch time, and more other data. 

Learning Loop 

The learning loop is part of the skill-building habit. 

Cues & Trigger -> Repeatable Action -> Pleasurable/Pain Activites -> Feedback -> Progress & Good/Bad Investment 

Cues & Triggers is a starting point for new habits; it could be either internal, situational, or external factors. For example, traffic congestion (Trigger). It is a known trigger to cause anger (Repeatable Action), leading to honking or outrageous driving (Pleasurable activity). This is irony because, in some way, it helps in developing better driving skills. (Progress in skill development due to cutting corners to go faster.)

The final part is progress and investment. Improvement and investment in the gamification learning loop are dependent on one's mood. The majority of the people subconsciously are heavily invested in their progress, leading them not to want to break the loop. 

Gamification is not only about badges, points, and leaderboard. Gamification heavily focuses on behaviorism. We need to understand the user and define the objective, then covering the goals, rules, feedback, and reward. The golden rule is purpose, autonomy, and mastery. 

As a game master, you need to set rules, boundaries, and limitations. Without those, the game will not happen because people will not react with how you want them to respond. Without reaction, there can be no feedback as feedback acknowledges the user's action and progress, which is the gamification pillar.

Mechanics: The rules or verbs of the game. 

Some of the common mechanics that most people experience daily. The main point isn't to specifically use it but to understand the type of person in your session and apply unique mechanics based on your scenario. 

Some mechanics can be used to incorporate everyone. For example, Zoom, we have been using Zoom for so long. And we found out that, after a prolonged session, participants will feel bored. To counter that, we will prompt the users to type something, short breaks, or move around. 

There are collectible mechanics in Pokemon Go in other examples of gamification mechanics because they are people who like to collect. Imagine when you are younger. It works the same as you are collecting stamps. Some players would go as far as collecting ultra-rare collectibles in the game. The Countdown is also one of the mechanics. Progress is also essential because, without structure, it will be the same endless cycle that will eventually bore the player.

Dynamics: How the players use those rules around a game

You cannot just rely on mechanics alone to make games enjoyable. Dynamic play is an essential factor to ensure the game doesn't break its flow. It would help if you had particular challenges to match with specific skills so that the game will flow. 

Aesthetics: How the game makes the player feel

80% of the time, it is mostly about how it looks and feels. Is it interesting, is the design intriguing enough, is there good sound design, etc. It is about the theme, not only about how high tech it looks. Going back to chapter 1 and 2, it is also always about the objective. Minecraft is one example that you don't need a tremendous amount of aesthetic to make the game work. 

In a FUN system

Mechanics represents the Rules, which describes the game's particular components at the level of data representation and algorithms.

Dynamics represents the Systems, which describes the mechanics' run-time behavior acting on the player inputs and each others' outputs over time.

Aesthetics represents the Presentation, which describes the desirable emotional responses evoked in the player when he/she interacts with the game system.

Points, Badges, and Leaderboards are the basis of gamification 

For points; you can know these several factors (Quantitative) :

  1. Scoring
  2. Rewards
  3. Win/Lose State
  4. Provide Feedback
  5. Display of Progress
  6. In-Game Currency

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For badges (Qualitative / Aesthetics );

  1. Achievements
  2. Flexibility
  3. Style
  4. Signaling of Importance
  5. Credentials
  6. Collections
  7. Social Display

TraitQuest is a gamification software in Malaysia, consulting, and solution provider for enterprises looking to add game elements to better their teams' engagement.