BEYOND BADGES: 5 cool gamification techniques

There are literally hundreds of engaging and motivating gamification techniques we use when we design eLearning.

Beyond the pursuit of badges and the grinding to ascend the levels’ ladder, there are UX features that can be implemented which give the learning experience a very distinct flavor.

Of course, we should always keep in mind that the type of gamification features or techniques employed, must be dictated by the characteristics of your audience and your learning objectives (and not the other way around). 

1. Virtual goods

User actions (consuming or contributing content, coming back with regularity, excelling in prescribed tasks, etc.) are rewarded with a virtual currency (e.g. ‘coins’). These can then be used to purchase an avatar, or new equipment for an avatar. In gamification schemas that don’t use avatars, virtual goods can decorate the user’s image (e.g. a ‘gold’ frame that appears around the selected user photo). Virtual goods strengthen the sense of purpose and add a significant element of customizability to your gamification schema. 


2. ‘Nearly there’ notifications

This is a simple and easy to implement technique that motivates learners to stick with an arduous or challenging task. Last mile drive refers to the empowerment we feel when we realize that we only have a short way to go before a task or process is complete. Even when a learner is tired, they are more likely to persevere, if they’re told (at the right time, and in the right manner) that there’s only a short way to go until the finish line. 


3. Impacting the interface

In this technique, the UI changes as the learner progresses through the material. For instance, the background color of the digital environment becomes darker or lighter, new action buttons are added, or new views become available. This gives the learner a strong sense of impact on the system and makes them feel that their hard work is producing a visible and important result. Quality of design is crucial here, as any changes brought about by the user’s progress must look and feel attractive and valuable. 


4. Freebies!

This is a reward that the player receives not for completing a task or reaching a milestone but as a ‘thank you’ from the system. It appears unexpectedly and very rarely. Remember that rewards in gamification should never involve real-life money, days off work, or anything that detracts from the inherent value of in-game achievement. A ‘free lunch’ reward can be an XP reward, a special badge, or even temporary access to a part of the system normally reserved for more experienced or accomplished users. It should always look and feel like a gift – a token of appreciation for sticking with the system and persevering with the learning journey. 


5.I did this’ button

This is made available after a big achievement (e.g. completing a demanding course or contributing content that has been highly appreciated by other users), and is a button that can be titled ‘Tell everyone’, ‘Show your pride’, or simply ‘Brag’. When clicked, other users learn about the achievement in the form of a notification and have the ability to respond by congratulating the achiever. The result is a bunch of congratulatory messages that contribute to a heightened sense of self-worth and motivate the learner to stick around and tackle even bigger challenges. 


We’ll be regularly discussing more gamification techniques in this blog!

Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you! 🙂

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