E-Learning Solutions: A Deep Dive into Gamification For Learning

You may have heard phrases like interactive e-learning, gamification for learning and gamified training thrown around when discussing the ever developing education industry. However, do you know what these terms mean?

With all of the apps, websites, virtual workstations and online spaces constantly being updated and integrated into our daily life, it’s hard to know when interactivity is used as a necessity, or when its being used to its best potential.

So let’s look at what gamification really is, how you may already be using it in your day to day, and both how and why you should craft it into your e-learning strategies.

Gamification Definition

According to Cambridge Dictionary the meaning of gamification is ‘the practice of making activities more like games in order to make them more interesting or enjoyable’, which basically means applying some game features and game mechanics to other tasks and activities to increase engagement and motivation.

Applying gamification can be used universally, from marketing, to fitness and obviously, it can be extremely beneficial for the education industry.

But what kind of game mechanics are we talking about? Even though it would be fun, it probably wouldn’t be productive to have an employee create an avatar of themselves just to go through their training.

Gamification includes using features such as quizzes, puzzles, rewards, feedback and interactive elements to engage users, which in turn, can have positive benefits for everyone involved.

A pixel art game scene showing the text 'You Win!' above an open treasure chest, with full in game lives and the score in the top corners

Gamification Examples

Although we’ve explained what gamification is, it can still be hard to picture how it can practically be applied in anyone’s day to day, or its benefits. So here are some examples of gamification that have already been hugely successful:

Dumb Ways to Die

This game came out in 2013 and quickly became one of the biggest apps on the app store, climbing to number 1 in 22 countries with now over 190 million downloads. Although at its surface it seems just like a silly game for kids, the game was actually created by Metro Trains Melbourne to promote rail safety.

Not only was the game as successful as it was, over 129 million people who played the game pledged to be safe around trains, and although we cant directly link it to the game, Metro Trains recorded a 21% reduction in train station incidents the same year.

This example really pushes the ‘game’ aspects of gamification, as, on the surface, the app could just be seen as a game without any other goal. However each mini-game you play ties directly in to a song that was written to promote safety, which both reinforce the key message to be mindful about your actions.

This can be seen further from the franchise the initial song and game have grown in to, with each new game featuring more situations where being mindful could save your life.


Duolingo is a free app that helps the user learn a new language. The app and website use a variety of interactive quizzes to turn learning a new language in to more of a game, while gently increasing difficulty, and introducing features such as audio and recording the users pronunciation to aid in the language learning process.

The Duolingo company pride themselves on prioritising the learning with their app, and continually carrying out research to ensure the model of learning they’re using benefits the students as much as possible; something that anyone can access through their website.

The app even uses notifications, feedback and rewards to motivate students, giving extra benefits to users that keep up their learning for multiple days, introducing cute characters that cheer the players on, and notifying the learner throughout the day to encourage their learning. All of these features really showcase the benefits of gamification, and how it can be used in a learning setting.

Starbucks rewards app

Looking at gamification in marketing and advertising, rewards and points systems are an extremely simple yet effective way to gamify the customer experience.
Take the Starbucks rewards app, buy a drink, get a stamp, then once you get enough stamps you can have something for free. Although it may seem like just a gimmick, by introducing a rewards system, starbuck are essentially gamifying their relationship with their customers.

Each time someone gets their coffee, they get a little reward for buying with starbucks, then after visiting a few times, they get a big reward of a free drink, which means customers will associate starbucks with something good. This then closes the cycle as by creating a positive association with their customers, these same customers will want to go back more often.

Smart watches e.g. Apple watch

Another great example of gamification is the use of smart watches like Fitbit and Apple watches, and how they encourage exercise. On Apple watches for instance, exercise is gamified using ‘rings’. Each ring represents a different type of exercise, and the watch tracks your progress as you try to reach your goal.

As with any exercise, each person can input their details and their goal, then from there the Apple watch will visualise these milestones to help congratulate the wearer on reaching their goal. With the interface being worn at all times, the watch can also notify you throughout the day to remind you that you need to walk or stand if you’ve been idle for an unhealthy amount of time.

This is a far more tailored experience, however it is still a good example of how gamification can be built in to our daily lives to help with motivation. It’s often easy to sit at a desk and burrow away within work, equally its easy to walk around during a busy day and not realise that you’ve been doing this exercise this entire time. By integrating this activity tracker into every Apple watch, doing exercise is suddenly something that the wearer will think about far more often than usual.

2D animated bean shaped characters all either dead or dying

5 benefits of gamification

Now we’ve had a look at some current examples of gamification being used, but why is it so effective? Here are some of the benefits of applying game features to your workplace:

Higher Engagement – Keeping users, customers, clients or students engaged is always difficult. This can be especially difficult when it comes to employee training, where no matter how necessary the learning is, it can be almost impossible to keep someone’s engagement when they may just be viewing the task as a chore.

Studies have found that 49% of employees tend to get bored with non gamified training, which shows the huge increase in engagement when gamification was used.

Increased Retention – The reason we need to increase engagement is to in turn, increase retention. Retention is the key goal when it comes to any education. Whether its e-learning in schools or corporate training, if the lesson has a low retention rate this means that those learning the information haven’t retained the information they’ve been taught.

High retention rates mean that learners are recalling more of the information therefore making the teaching more effective.

Immediate Feedback – The immediate feedback that gamification offers is also something that can be hugely beneficial to users. The usual process of learning, testing then receiving results can often disrupt the learning process, and make receiving feedback and working on any issues take longer.

Considering apps like Duolingo, or even the prompting given by the Apple watch, receiving immediate feedback on performance not only keeps the user engaged, but it can highlight weaker areas quicker, meaning those can be focussed on and the user can improve quicker, rather than repeating learning unnecessarily.

Enhanced Motivation – Motivation is another key benefit of gamification. Thinking of any of our previous examples, they can all be reduced to efforts to motivate users to behave in a certain way. It’s very easy to tell someone they should be doing something, but getting someone to do something because they feel motivated means they are more likely to stay engaged and want to do well.

Steering our focus back towards e-learning, studies have found that 85% of employees say they’ll spend more time on gamified software. This then means better engagement, higher retention rates, and users that want to to better, all of which contributes to more affecting learning.

Encourages Collaborative Learning – Another benefit of gamification is that it often encourages socialisation, which is beneficial for mental health and can also boost motivation. This can happen for a number of reasons, one way is that you can build social interaction in as a game feature, from needing to talk to other people to answer questions, to needing to work together to complete tasks, gamification can be a great way to increase socialisation within a space.

However even just by introducing game features in to learning makes the experience unique and individual to each user, therefore encouraging the different users to socialise and discuss their experience. A study in 2019 found that 87% of employees claim they feel more socially connected when there are gamified activities in the workplace.

Screenshot of gameplay from the Biffa Waste Munchers Phone game featuring two waste bins

How to craft interactive e-learning using gamification strategies

We’ve looking at what gamification is, some excellent examples of gamification that are already being used by millions of people, and gone through some of the many benefits. So how can you use gamification in your workplace?

The first thing to understand is just because there is interactivity, doesn’t mean it is ‘gamified’. Most digital e-learning nowadays is automatically interactive just for having to click on to the learning and click through the information. Even simply adding quizzes to be filled out doesn’t fully introduce game mechanics to your learning either. It takes consideration of the subject, and the goal of the learning to truly utilise gamification.

Think about the key learning points, the points that need to be emphasised, the goal of the learning and the context of the course. Then build in interactivity that enhances these points. Considering dumb ways to die, each minigame reinforced the lessons being taught.

If you look at our Waste Munchers game, at its surface it is simply a sorting game, much like a ‘true’ or ‘false’ quiz, however the way it has been presented as a game for the learner reinforces the context, and the reason for the learning.

Once the interactivity has been developed, you can then include feedback, which could be immediately after the answer has been given or as a summary at the end of the content. As we’ve previously mentioned including feedback means that users can work out any areas of weakness which can then be improved upon. This feedback can also include rewards and positive reinforcement to keep up engagement and motivate the learners to improve and learn further.

Using these features, and any other original ideas you can think of, gamified learning courses can vastly improve your workplace. We’ve worked on a huge range of e-learning and gamified training, from online modules to VR.

If you want to find out about how gamification can benefit your business, contact us here.


Does e-learning have to be gamified?

E-learning doesn’t have to be gamified, as we’ve mentioned in the blog post, e-learning can come in a variety of categories and doesn’t have to feature game mechanics.

We can also make help with making simple courses that feature interactivity such as quizzes and multiple choice questions. However we can also advise on integrating game mechanics should you need.

Is VR training a type of gamification?

VR training is a type of gamification, and is an excellent example of how far you can take gamified learning. Visit our website here to find out more about what VR training entails and how it could benefit your business.

How can progress be tracked in gamified learning?

Progress can be tracked in a number of ways, one of which is by integrating the course in to a learning management system. We could then tailor the experience so that the chosen information is feedback to whoever carries out the information

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