The expert in gamification Karl Kapp provides a comprehensive analysis of game dynamics implementation in educational environments. The main ideas here are extracted from his book ‘The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. Game-based methods and strategies for training and education‘:
- Game-based learning facilitates learning by laying its foundations upon the game: the process is more easily followed while the concepts are assimilated.
- The game creates a virtual environment that recreates realistic situations (simulations). This way, users (students) learn to function in a safe context, but with rules, interactivity and feedback.
- The student accepts rules more easily in a playful environment: following certain rules, students can advance and succeed in the game. If they don’t play by those rules, however, they won’t beat the levels.
- It is an efficient training tool because it incorporates gaming elements: challenges, fantasy, motivation, easy achievement metrics (levels, ranking, score), as well as satisfaction by the achievement of goals.
- The progress through levels, characteristic of game-based learning methods and strategies, allow for an increase in the difficulty of achieving certain goals, so that:
- Game-based learning methods adapt to the particularities of each individual: user’s progress as they assimilate concepts and internalize habits, going up a “complexity scale”
- When experiencing the game, users react emotionally as they get involved in the process. Learning is almost an “extra” surprise, a special guest to the gamified system.
- Game-based learning strategies are the best guarantee to maintain the motivation of participants: they keep receiving continuous and personalized feedback which gives them information about their own progress.
- Karl Kapp distinguishes between two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. The first occurs after a certain activity is performed; the second, extrinsic, is the behavior specifically aimed to getting a reward. The best game-based learning is the one that has both types of motivation.
- People are especially motivated when they feel they can control the environment and establish relationships with other players. Game-based learning methods incorporate competitive aspects (rankings, prizes, score), which serve as motivators while they ensure that students will interiorize and embrace the knowledge.
- The narrative thread favors the involvement of students. Thanks to the story told by many game-based learning courses, especially serious games, students get immersed in the story and, through that narrative, they take lessons and learn.
- The game-based learning methodology clearly defines the goals that students must achieve. This way, the importance of the contents is always present above the aesthetic “packaging” which characterizes the game.
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Karl Kapp not only makes distinctions regarding game-based learning, but also about the players/students themselves. So we have:
- The “achiever”: their only goal is to reach the top and win.
- The “explorer”: they spend a lot of time learning about the environment and everything that surrounds them.
- The “socializer”: they are very aware of communication and relationships with other players.
- The “killer”: they want to beat (“kill”) as many players as possible.
Kapp’s work also highlights the complexity of launching a training project. The implementation of models based on game-based learning facilitates the process but, just like any other training plan, it requires the participation of the whole team.
Not only to analyze the problems and needs of companies, but for the effective implementation of these training strategies and the goals and objectives to be developed and evaluated in each organization.
When the time comes to implement and perform a training model using gamification, HR managers should consider:
- Contents and methodology: they must be in accordance with the learning and results targeted by the training plan.
- Information and preparation: before the launch of any training, employees should be informed of the fact that they will receive it, showing the benefits of gamification and reminding them that the main objective, above the “game”, is learning. This will adjust expectations and favor better results.
- Consensus: those responsible for implementing game-based learning in an organization must agree on the results they hope to achieve with that training experience.
- Guarantee success: gamification is a fashion. The departments responsible for implementing a training model should look for suppliers and consultants who truly understand what game-based learning is and have previous experience to ensure effective learning.