Gamification is the process of bringing game elements into anything that is not in a game context. While gamification has recently become a buzzword, the idea isn’t new. Humans have been trying to make boring and even unpleasant tasks fun for a long time. Perhaps you recall your teachers using a sticker chart at school to encourage good behavior. Remember Snow White’s famous song, “Whistle While You Work” or Mary Poppins’ “A Spoonful of Sugar?”
When used effectively, gamification encourages habit development through positive reinforcement, whether that’s engaging with an app, performing better in a job, or buying more of a product. Here are five examples of the effect of gamification, and how it can improve workplace learning.
- Gamification increases dopamine
Dopamine, or the feel-good hormone, is released whenever we are rewarded for a specific action. Gamification focuses on giving learners instantaneous feedback which might not otherwise be available.
By giving virtual rewards for achieving learning goals, learners begin to associate the learning with positive emotions, prompting them to try to repeat it (i.e., seek out more learning). This effect of gamification keeps your learners motivated to seek out training, rather than dread it.
- Badges and rewards can trigger serotonin release
Serotonin is a hormone that governs our overall mood. Plenty of serotonin makes for a sunny disposition whereas a drop in serotonin might leave you feeling a bit grumpy. Along with things like eating properly, serotonin release is also triggered by remembering past successes.
The badge cabinet of a gamified learning management system lets learners get a serotonin rush on-demand, whenever they look at rewards they have earned. This effect of gamification helps your learners overcome the training terrors with a positive association to workplace learning.
- Playing games releases endorphins
The thrill and excitement of playing a game is the result of endorphins being released. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller. They can also lower stress and anxiety levels, and even create a sense of euphoria.
Combined with other neurotransmitters, this helps create an ideal environment for focused learning. This effect of gamification helps your learners to create a break in the monotony of day-to-day work with an activity which strengthens their skills and knowledge.
- The hippocampus controls recall
The hippocampus is an area in the lower section of the brain which is largely responsible for knowledge recall. During learning, a strong hippocampal activation makes the content easier to remember and recall (Foerde & Shohamy, 2011). Clinical tests also reveal that gameplay stimulates these conditions.
“Identifying a direct connection between the stimulation of neural circuits and game play is a key step in unlocking the potential for game-based tools to inspire positive behavior and improve health,” said Brian Knutson, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Stanford University. This effect of gamification ensures that you receive an ROI on your workplace training, since learners are more likely to retain the information.
- Gamification helps deal with cognitive overload
The human brain can only handle a finite amount of information. If the cognitive load is too heavy, the learner could miss information, resulting in incomplete training. One way that gamification can deal with cognitive overload is to present the learning in a more challenge-based format. Along with the other neurological benefits of gamification, this effect of gamification helps to chunk the learning into smaller pieces that are easier to retain.
Just like everything in life, moderation is key. Too much of one thing can lead to burnout, even if that thing is full of positive effects, like gamification. The key is finding the right balance of gamification to keep your employees engaged, but not stressed or overwhelmed.
Contact us today to start seeing the overall effect of gamification in your workplace training.