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Key Learnings from Gamification course (Coursera)

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Key Learnings from Gamification course (Coursera)

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I posted that I had completed the wonderful Gamification course on Coursera.  Ryan Rutan suggested it might be worth sharing a couple of key learnings, and I would love to.

First off - Gamification is not about turning everything into a game (as is commonly assumed).  Jive is gamified, but is not a game. The idea is to look at the elements of gaming that engage people so much, and then apply those to other arenas.  The working definition in the course:

Gamification is the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts.

There are three parts to that definition.

  • Game elements. (The tool box.  Visuals, avatars, points, activity, etc.)
  • Game design techniques. (Design.  There are a lot of elements to consider: objectives, behaviors, the "players", psychology/motivation, technology, feedback mechanisms, activity loops.  Makes a lot of sense to instructional designers like me.)
  • Non-game context.  (Business or learning (or other) purpose.  On the other hand, when you're playing a game, you're playing to have fun in the game, that's it.)

A huge purpose of gamification is to motivate people to engage in certain behaviors.

Next - you really need to do a good design if you want to gamify something (well done, Jive designers!) - you need to understand your purpose, what you want to motivate people to do, and have a sense of the underlying pyschological/neurological mechanisms involved (fascinating stuff!).  There are plenty of caveats here - it is often not well done, and gamification thus can get a bad rep. 

It's a fascinating and emerging field.  The Coursera course is very well done and I enjoyed it.  The Prof has a book For the Win (Werbach, Hunter), which I am reading as follow-up and reinforcement.  There are other great resources as well, but I find this well thought out and useful. 

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