The term “gamification” is relatively new to me. It has come up in a few projects I have been working on recently and it led me to ponder the past and future of this notion. Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.
Let’s start off with the past. Throughout elementary school, I looked forward to our computer class, which included games such as Oregon Trail, Reader Rabbit, Math Blaster, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and multiple typing courses. They were fun, they were engaging, and I wanted to finish every single one I started. I wasn’t even cognizant that I was learning while playing these, but it was happening. I wasn’t the only one: everyone was excited about computer class because we all knew we had one hour to continue our journey to Oregon or to eventually discover the location of Carmen. The teachers had to love this one hour—there was not one kid who wasn’t paying attention or participating. This system was so effective, it makes you wonder why it isn’t carried through into higher education. But can it be? And is it?
The future of gamification is bright. But it needs to go beyond progress bars and achievements in interactive webinars and quizzes. With the development of gaming consoles like Playstation, XBOX, and Wii, there are multiple platforms for innovative educational games. The targeted demographic for these companies does not need to solely focus on the 18-and-under audience, but can and should be shifted to a broader, more professional scene. Not only could high schools and colleges be infused with this system, but the workplace and tools that are used within it can surely be as well. Training sessions, including interactive sales objection handling and content knowledge, can be transformed into engaging, motivational games. For instance, if someone were to start a new job, they would be required to read through literature, browse websites, and shadow co-workers for days or sometimes weeks at a time. Imagine how much more involved and excited a new employee would be if the employer sat them down on their first day in front of an XBOX and said, “Go ahead and complete all 15 levels.” Each level may be similar to the steps/rules of the workplace or client download sessions, but retention would be a major benefit.
How often do you remember reading a binder full of rules and articles vs. being engaged in a storyline of a game or video? Efficiency and engagement would undoubtedly increase. Manpower would not be needed to perform the training and completion would be dependent on possible quizzes or tests. A consumer-facing format can be developed for waiting rooms or sales floors. Instead of reading the specs and offerings of a product or browsing a website for the information desired, an integrated gaming system may be available for a consumer to do a deep dive into a certain product. Mapping out a virtual game board to jump around to desired products could unlock discounts or special offers. Freedom of choice and engagement would be higher than simple spec boards.
Accessibility along with engagement will lead the gamification push. The future of education, alongside business efficiencies and enhancement, can and will be majorly effected.