5 Common Gamification Mistakes and Solutions
The use of gamification mechanics for various training formats within corporate business houses and industries has seen exponential growth. While the obvious benefits of gamification in imparting eLearning modules and training is being widely acknowledged, there are some common gamification mistakes that corporates frequently tend to make.
Following are some serious pitfalls that business owners tend to make when applying gamification techniques:
Gamification Mistake 1: Not Setting the gamification objectives
Not having a clear gamification goal in one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
What is the ultimate goal of the game that you’ve designed? This is perhaps the most important question that needs to be asked and is yet frequently overlooked.
Setting the objectives is one of the first steps of a gamification strategy. An organization’s goals may differ wit every gamified training. Some gamified training could focus on achieving higher engagement levels, others could be more intent on changing the user behavior, imparting a particular skill set, or increase motivation within the employees.
Without setting a clear goal in place, it gets increasingly difficult to manage the game mechanics or even keep the employees interested in the long run. Additionally, a pre-defined game plan is required to make future improvements and updations.
Following are the key pointers to avoid this common gamification mistake:
- Set some time aside for planning.
- Get a clear understanding of the user behavior, their motivational factors, and learning needs.
- Create separate gamification based training for different learning needs.
- Ensure that the gamified training is clear enough for the learners to understand the overall objective.
Gamification Mistake 2: Overfocussing on competition
Healthy competition is an important element of a gamification strategy. However, more often than not, game designers and business managers go overboard with the idea.
While competition is an integral part of gamification, other aspects like teamwork, collaboration, positive reinforcement are important too.
The purpose of gamification should hence be on learner engagement using a good balance of all of the essential features, and not just competition. After all, gamified eLearning isn’t really about getting on the top level of the leaderboard.
Overfocussing on competition is a frequently observed gamification mistake. While competition does add fin and excitement to the learning process, it often diverts the learner’s attention from the main objective. This further results in learners not paying attention to the main content/purpose of the gamification training.
The following points can help you overcome this common gamification mistake:
- Decide the level of competition. Keep it sufficient for people to engage but not too strong to make them feel demotivated. Ensure that your learners are not focussed ONLY on competition.
- Decide a suitable length for the competition. Make sure that is long enough to give the participants a fair chance of achieving the targets before the activity ends.
- Pick your rewards carefully. Stars, badges, etc are the preferred reward system. Cash rewards often result in creating too much focus on competition.
- Consider the positioning of your leaderboards. Keeping them in the center of the page will get the learners to push harder for competition.
- Use the leaderboards to motivate your learners at their current standing/level. Celebrate their efforts to gain the points at each level, instead of just focussing on achieving the target.
- Ensure that you use leaderboards that start weekly/monthly. This will motivate the employees to start fresh if they want to.
Gamification Mistake 3: Poor reward and point structure
Rewards and points are again an important aspect of a gamification strategy. They are the tools to generate learner motivation and engagement. However, not using them at the right place, the right time and the right frequency is another common gamification mistake.
Reward structures are important in determining the success of the overall objectives of a game.
Intrinsic & extrinsic reward need to be design to fit into the game to create the motivation factor. The wrong usage of the reward would easily jeopardize the game.
However, rewards lose their meaning if they’re thrown too frequently.
Users getting points, rewards and badges without really having to put in significant efforts result in them losing interest.
Rewards are meant to encourage users to carry out tasks and activities while building skills. Getting rewarded for everything will soon make the entire reward system meaningless.
Another common gamification mistake is when the process overfocusses on points and leaderboards. Points and badges show achievement and are a measure of the learner’s progress. Getting points or badges makes the learner feel connected to the training.
However, sometimes, these factors are overstressed while designing the gamification strategy. It is important to remember that people don’t usually do things only for points and badges. The gamification elements need to focus on being attractive enough for the users to want to participate.
Following tips can help you avoid this gamification mistake:
- Keep the reward system simple. Choose a limited number of actions that learners are expected to carry out. Reward users on successful completion of the task along with the expected behavior.
- Incentivize a limited number of actions.
- Use fixed action reward systems. A learner here needs to know what he/she is expected to do to earn a reward.
- Rewards may be segmented. This means that the rewards are given in multiple steps so that the participants feel engaged enough to collect them. Users may want to complete their entire collection of rewards and are hence motivated to work through the games.
- Just using points and badges as rewards is not always sufficiently engaging. They should be linked to an important achievement.
- Decide intrinsic or extrinsic or mixture of both depending on the game journey and the game duration.
Gamification Mistake 4: Not focusing on user engagement and motivation
Nothing works without sufficient motivation. It is the first reason why people would come to trying gamification training in the first place. This is what encourages users to participate, continue and move on to higher levels.
Gamification design that is not sufficiently engaging will not be able to meet the project objectives. However, ignoring this key factor is a common gamification mistake.
Consider the following tips to avoid this very common gamification mistake.
- Think from the learner’s perspective. See if the game is in sync with the learning objectives of the training and is sufficiently attractive for the employees to participate.
- Check and see if the game creates a feeling of belonging and attachment
- See if the gaming elements bring sufficient recognition to add to the self-esteem of the learners.
- Ensure that the reward systems are carefully devised to make the employees feel attracted.
- Ensure that the three critical elements of motivation are incorporated within the gamification strategy (Autonomy, Value, Competence)
Gamification Mistake 5: Not focusing on the long term goals
Gamification should not just be used for immediate learning needs. The key aim of gamification is to target long term learning goals and focus on long term behavior changes. Yet, various companies only consider the short term targets of gamification which is a crucial gamification mistake.
Gamification techniques and even designs can get outdated over time. Additionally, using the same process for different learning needs over the years can become repetitive. The end result could be a loss of user interest, lack of motivation and engagement.
Looking at the bigger picture is hence important. This can be achieved by bringing in a constant change in their experience.
Consider the following approaches:
- Re-design your gamification approach frequently.
- Choose activities that show linear progression over the years.
- Use gamification to track employee progress. Training courses are a long term measure of progress. Leaderboards can be frequently re-set to add new training modules for employees.
- Variable interval rewards work great as a long term engagement strategy. When a user doesn’t know when to expect a sudden award, they are motivated to keep learning in the long term.
- Keep adding new elements over time. Ensure that the gamification activities aren’t boring and limited.
With attention spans becoming shorter, gamification techniques are the perfect answer to modern eLearning and corporate training needs. However, even the best ideas can fail when common mistakes are overlooked during the planning stage. Remember to plan and strategize your gaming designs and ensure that all the key elements are well integrated.