Want To Make Conference Learning Stick? Try Gamification!

Die, Stormtrooper, Die

Want to make your conference education more fun and memorable?

Then maybe you should consider gamification.

Simply put, gamification is the use of game mechanics to make learning and instruction more fun and to increase retention.

Learning And Gamification Make A Great Team

Coupling gamification and learning:

  • gives an experience meaning
  • provides a set of boundaries within a safe environment to explore, think and try new things
  • motivates players to succeed and reduces the sting of failure
  • • gives players the permission to fail
  • encourages out-of-the-box thinking and a sense of control

Adding game elements on top of the traditional conference education environment is a way of leveraging the power of engagement, story, autonomy, meaning and imagination.

Gamification is more than the use of badges, rewards and points. It’s to increase engagement, provide immediate feedback, and gain a sense of accomplishment and success of working against a challenge and overcoming it. That’s what learning is about as well. Ultimately, game-based mechanics can create meaningful learning experiences!

Defining Gamification

According to author and Professor Karl Kapp, “Gamification is using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning and solve problems.”

Let’s look at each of the elements Kapp identifies.

1. Game-Based

Using the nine concepts outlined in the definition of a game. Ultimately, the goal is to create a system where consumers, employees, learners and players engage in an abstract challenge, defined by rules, interactivity and feedback that results in a quantifiable outcome ideally eliciting an emotional reaction.

2. Mechanics

Game mechanics include levels, earning badges, point systems, scores and time constraints. Mechanics are insufficient to turn a boring experience into an engaging experience. Yet they are a critical foundation used during gamification.

3. Aesthetics

Aesthetics include appealing graphic, a well-designed experience and a player’s interface. How a player perceives his/her experience influences if they are willing to accept the game.

4. Game Thinking

Game thinking is thinking about an everyday experience and connecting it to interactive activity that includes competition, cooperation, discovery and storytelling.

5. Engage

To keep a player’s attention and involvement in the game’s process. Engagement of an individual is a primary focus of gamification.

6. People

Consumers, employees, learners or players who are engaged in the game’s process and motivated to take action.

7. Motivate Action

Motivation energizes and gives direction, purpose or meaning to specific behavior and action. A game’s challenge cannot be too hard or too easy for a player to be motivated to continue to play. Driving participation is one of the core elements of a game.

8. Promote Learning

Many of the elements of gamification are based on educational psychology and are techniques that educators, teachers and professors have used for years. Examples include assigning points to activities, presenting corrective feedback and encouraging collaboration on projects.

9. Solve Problems

The cooperative nature of games can lead to collaborative problem solving.

According to Kapp, Gamification is not:

  • badges, points and rewards
  • trivialization of learning
  • new
  • foreign to learning
  • perfect for every situation
  • easy to create
  • just game mechanics.

What elements of gamification have you participated in at a conference or event? How do you see gamification being used at your next event.

Comments

  1. says

    What is great about game thinking is that it creates clear outcomes. So, at the start of a game we all know what it means to win the game. What if we went to a conference and defined for ourselves at the start of the conference what it would mean to ‘win’? We might have objectives – e.g. meet 10 new people (in game talk these would be allies) or have 3 brand new ideas (or wisdom points). What if as meeting planners we used gamification to create our events and used that to define with our clients what a win is. This would be a new spin on the ROI conversation.

    • Jeff Hurt says

      @Cathy
      Thanks for reading and adding to the discussion.

      I like that you identified that game thinking helps create clear outcomes and helps manage expectations for all involved. Love that. So glad you added it too.

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