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Serious Games & Gamification

What is game-based learning/gamification?

In learning and development, gamification is the personification of learning that strives to leverage people’s natural desires, ranging from competition to achievement to self-expression to closure. As game-based learning has evolved, it has been called many different names, including gamification, gameful learning, and serious games. The problem is, these terms mean different things to different people, which creates layers of misunderstanding.

Gamification is not new but recent advancements in technology have given us software that makes gamification simpler to create efficiently and allows others to join us in on the fun! In gamification, we’re asking learners to practice skills and explore options for how to complete tasks.


What’s the difference between gamification, game-based learning, and serious games?

When we talk about game-based learning, we’re simply referring to games that have learning objectives. Players must learn a certain subject or skill, and then apply their new knowledge to win the game. Game-based learning types include board, card, and video games - even hide-and-seek. Gamification isn’t a type of learning. Nor is it a game. It is an instructional design approach.

An instructional designer might incorporate gamification strategies, components of gameplay - in an eLearning module to make learners interact with the content which empowers learners to think before they act.

Serious games are simulations of real-world events used in the everyday workplace. The purpose of the interactivity in a serious game is skill practice and mastery, rather than entertainment. Also referred to as immersive learning simulations, these games simulate real life situations and give learners an opportunity to practice what they learn through trial and error. Serious games also involve competition, a motivational factor in education.

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Benefits of Gamification and Serious Games

When crafted well, gamification plays to human’s affinity and curiosity for compelling stories and desire to succeed. Gamified learning offers an effective combination of exploration, investigation, and storytelling to engage learners. Much like video games, the options available for gamified learning experiences are almost endless. Puzzles can be great for helping employees better understand how they fit into your organization. Adventure games can replace out-of-date compliance training. Role-playing and simulation-style gamified learning is great for teaching sales strategies and selling practices. Action and strategy games can be a great way to build soft skills within your organization.

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Choose Your Own Learning Adventure: a Field Guide to Scenario-Based Learning




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Minnesota Department of Human Services

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