“Alright, everyone. It’s time to play a game!” Do you remember the flurry of excitement you felt when your pre-school teacher announced those terrific words? You dropped whatever you were doing and became fully attentive at the prospect of a game at school! Fast-forward 20 years, and you’re struggling to keep your eyes open during another boring slide presentation intended to train and upskill. Which scenario would you prefer?


Gamification: Active listening, interactive participation

So, what’s the connection? In both scenarios, the aim is to educate you about a particular topic that will assist your progress regardless of age. Yes, scenario A is when you were a young child, and scenario B is for your profession, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be interactive and fun!


What is gamification?

Gamification is a concept that incorporates elements of gaming into e-learning platforms, also known as learning management systems (LMSs). It’s one of the most cutting-edge ways to make your employee training or learner education more effective and engaging.

A study from the University of Colorado found that gamification in e-learning scored higher in fact- and skills-based learning assessments. Retention also improved when gamification was used in the workplace. In the future, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) may also become a regular part of gamification in business.


How does gamification in e-learning work?

Gamification is a flexible concept that can be tailored to suit a company’s specific needs. For example, thanks to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology, you can run simulations, e.g. place an employee or prospective employee in a scenario that tests their aptitude for key performance indicators (KPIs) of the job description. You could also apply this approach to assessments and/or performance reviews. The game world is virtually infinite and situationally generated as players explore, develop and lead a simulated world.

Gamification also resolves one of the primary obstacles of online learning – participant disengagement. The following quote reiterates the reason for the lack of interest and interaction:

“For those of us who aspire to be original, predictability can be the worst kind of banality.” – James Spader, as Alan Shore, in the television series Boston Legal.

It’s fair to say the majority of us have felt this way at some point in our studies because the lesson format was predictable, one-sided, unable to transfer the emotion of the subject matter.


Insight from a gamification expert

We spoke to Dr HB Moolman (PhD – Computer-Assisted Education) to gain a more in-depth understanding of the theory and practical advantages of gamification. He starts by posing two questions, “What makes people across the world play electronic games?  What are the essential elements of gamification?  How can education benefit?” In his words,

Games are about fun and relaxation. This is the standard view when traditional games are discussed.  In sport, soccer, rugby, tennis matches consist of the following essential elements:

  • Competition against an opponent
  • Rules of the game
  • Strategy
  • Points to earn
  • Skills and endurance
  • One winner and;
  • Eventually, a leader board

Computer games utilise these same elements: strategy, rules, beat the opposition, score rewards, compete and measure against others regarding skill and guile.  The strongest and most cunning will prevail. An animated world or virtual environment is often added to motivate and attract competitors. 

In the world of education, an essential element is still “play to learn”.  An experienced educator will always revert to a game to teach their pupils a skill.  Most of us learned about accounting when we played “buying games” as children.  Game elements should be applied when gamification in courses are considered.  Sadly, many so-called e-learning providers today explain gamification as “earning points” and “awarding badges” for your online learning achievements.  

Gamification is about education, and education is about achieving learning objectives. A skilled online educator builds the gamification of a course by using all the above-mentioned elements.  It is about motivation, and the higher level of intrinsic motivation a course developer constructs, the more likely the success of the gamification course. 


E-learning success story


Case study: Microsoft’s Minecraft: Education Edition

A few years ago, Microsoft came up with an ingenious way to use one of their most popular video games for e-learning purposes: Minecraft: Education Edition. It became a global phenomenon and the best-selling video game of all time.

According to the official Minecraft website, “Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination.”


Benefits for educators

  • Immersive experience
  • Collaborate projects with classmates
  • Learn in-demand skills such as coding
  • Personalisation capabilities
  • The ability for work to be documented and discussed in class
  • Communicate in-game learning objectives clearly
  • Create a community
  • A safe, secure environment
  • In-game guides and educational resources

Microsoft has commented that it has a 100-year plan for the game, meaning that it will continue to evolve with society and education dynamics. It’s essentially an e-learning microcosm of our ever-changing world.



Gamification is timeless and therefore has the potential to be a robust e-learning format for the foreseeable future. It makes education accessible, engaging, entertaining. Courses can be developed for any subject and age group using state of the art language management systems (LMSs). For example, businesses can offer gamification courses allowing staff to embrace further education training courses. They can learn and develop new skills and refine current competencies, and through this, employees can add more value to your business.

Many of our clients are reaping the rewards of gamification. Are you ready to play the game? Speak to a business consultancy that has access to e-learning professionals today.