Gamification and Game-Based Learning: Did You Know the Difference?


If you’ve recently been involved with making your elearning programs more engaging and interactive, there’s a high probability that you must’ve stumbled upon the two buzzwords, gamification and game-based learning. While these may seem pretty simple to visualise and hear yet have slightly complex approaches which tend to muddle the audience.

But, you need not worry about the same as we’ve got you covered! So, stop wondering what’s the difference and clear your misconceptions by reading on.

Gamification and its application 

Gamification is the application of game mechanics into a non-game format in order to promote any desired behaviour and specific learning outcomes. In elearning, this implies that game elements are rewards extended to the learners upon successful completion of the respective course modules. 

The main purpose of gamification is to foster engagement, think of badges, leaderboards, and incentives! It basically draws on human needs to collect, complete, and succeed.

It can be as simple as adding levels or progress bars to existing content and ranges to more complex applications like rewarding learners for every correct answer and placing employees on leaderboards. This aggravates motivation level of the employees and they are drawn towards beating their highest scores time and again to earn rewards. 

However, gamification strategy works best in certain scenarios only like that in elearning. Course providers must ensure that the content is comprehensible else engagement levels shall dip in case it takes time for the employees to consume the provided material. 

Game based learning and its application

Unlike gamification, game based learning is the training which involves the use of games to teach a specific skill to learners. It centers around the course’s core objectives and makes the learning experience rather interesting.

With game based learning, users get to learn new concepts and skills in a completely risk free environment and the progress in the game is directly proportional to their understanding of the subject. Some common examples include company training, team building, staff awareness training etc. It has a significant impact on the retention rate of the learners as well because when engagement increases, so does retention.

With game based learning, users are able to resonate well and hence it is pretty convenient for them to memorise or get familiar with a particular concept which remains in their minds for a longer time span. Moreover, users are provided valuable feedback from time to time which gives them a fair idea of their strengths and weak areas which need to be paid attention to. Hence, more complicated processes are taught with game based learning.

One of the noteworthy drawbacks associated with game based learning is that since it requires creating new modules in the form of games, it can be very time consuming and expensive. However, this barrier can be eliminated via authoring tools. Just like there are elearning authoring tools with image editor functionality, there are others designed to cater to the needs of game based learning. 

The bottom line

While gamification involves implementing game based elements to a non gaming format to make it interesting, game based learning on the other hand is the teaching of a new skill or concept with the use of a relevant game. Each of these are strong pillars of elearning as they drive engagement however it is game based learning which also facilitates retention alongside.

So, when choosing either of the two don’t forget to weigh the pros and cons of each in addition to considering the requirements of your organisation and the modern learners. So, get set and choose your pick! 

Written by

Ryan Robinson

Ryan Robinson is a web content specialist who loves to write on new Technology, Digital Marketing & Internet. Ryan work has appeared in a wide range of publications in Online Media Coverage for Digital Companies Like: Wondershare, NordVPN.

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