Monday, March 26, 2012

Would you like to play a game?

Gamification is hot on the lips of many people at the moment, from sales and marketing to social networking.  It's also gaining strength in the field of learning, particularly the online context.  Games for learning aren't something new, but the recent success of online gaming does seem to have fuelled new interest.  World of Warcraft is a runaway commercial success (a big draw in itself) and has huge communities of practice who discuss the best ways to succeed in the game.  Imagine attaining that level of engagement for a workforce!

There are similarities between creating an engaging game and an engaging learning experience, but there's a thin line to be walked here.  Making a learning  activity seem trivial can easily switch people off - who wants a badge for everything anyway?  But make the experience relevant, challenging and interactive, and there's a chance you're on to a winner.  Score yourself a really meaningful achievement:

Unlocked: Performance support through gaming

Games can also invoke a lot of positive psychology, making us feel better about ourselves through participation.  A well-designed game can actually be fun to play even if we fail, which makes us keep trying.  There is a note of caution here of course.  At some point learners have to make the transition to a real-world task, where failure has real consequences.  One has to hope that they have acquired real mastery so this doesn't happen often, and the resilience to deal with the negative feedback failure wil incur!

It's a big wide open field, and I'm looking forward to a lot of fun exploring it.  Let the games begin...