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September 2016
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September 2016
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Newsletter Article

7 Steps to an Effective Gamification Implementation


No matter how fun your game-based solution is supposed to be, you will still need a plan for launching it, promoting it, and measuring it. How will you communicate about the game? Will you require players to play? How will you incentivize play… or do you need to incentivize? These are all questions you must answer as you implement a serious game or gamification initiative. 

Companies who are most successful with games and gamification in their organizations take many similar approaches when it comes to implementation. So whether you are preparing to launch your first serious game or just looking to make your next initiative more successful, consider these tips for a successful implementation. 

1. “Required” Works Best

Let’s face it: employee time is limited, and most of us only have the energy to focus on the activities that are truly essential to our jobs. Even if your serious game is fun, is it equal to or greater than the myriad of entertainment options available to us around the clock? Organizations that are most successful with serious games require play.

2. Blend Into a Curriculum: Use as Part of a Learning Solution

You probably have lots of training initiatives happening in a calendar year. Games might be a great addition to the mix, but you should not plan to replace all of these existing training events with games. Organizations have the most success when games are part of a larger blended curriculum or strategy. This allows you to narrow the focus of your game to cover a specific skill or set of knowledge. 

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3. Use the Game as a Reinforcement (Most of the Time)

Games and gamification make great reinforcement tools. In fact, most organizations we have worked with position games as either a reinforcement or a first exposure to content that will be covered in greater detail later. It is also easier to launch a game as a reinforcement when you are attempting your first go-around with serious games. 

4. Offer Incentives and/or Provide Sufficient Motivation

No matter how you dress it up, completing a serious game is still training that is part of a job. Unless your learners are highly intrinsically motivated, we recommend providing prizes and rewards. Encouragement from senior leadership can be even more effective. 

5. Create a Communications Strategy Around the Game

L&D leaders need to think more like marketers when implementing all types of training. Successful gaming implementation incorporates some sort of multi-part communications strategy to get the word out. This could include many things, from advertisements in a call center to a series of emails or even a collection of advertisements placed throughout a company intranet site. 

 6. Use Reporting and Adapt the Training

Most organizations first get interested in games because they want to motivate or engage their employees. This is only part of why games are powerful organizational learning tools, though. For example, Johnson & Johnson was able to identify a specific learning objective that learners were missing as a group, then adjust its overall training to better focus on the weak process step. The organizations that are successful with serious games and gamification take advantage of the data they gather from their learners and act quickly to adapt their training and processes. 

7. Gather Insights Via Surveys

It is not uncommon to survey learners after a training initiative is completed… especially after a pilot. Games are no different. Surveys can reveal many valuable insights that impact future games. For example, in one survey, a player commented that they learned a more effective way to do their job through the game that had not been covered in company-wide training. The client was able to take this information and launch new training to teach the effective process to the rest of the department. 

About the Author

Sharon Boller is president and chief product officer of Bottom-Line Performance, Inc. (BLP), a learning solutions firm she founded in 1995. Sharon has grown BLP from a single-woman sole proprietorship to a $3M+ company with 30 team members. Under Sharon’s direction, BLP created the Knowledge Guru™ learning game platform. Knowledge Guru is the recipient of numerous industry awards, including the coveted Brandon Hall Gold award for best innovation in gaming and technology (2014). BLP has also produced a wide array of other award-winning learning solutions. They earned Brandon Hall awards for best advance in sales training, best use of games and simulations for learning in 2014. They've earned numerous Horizon Awards as well. 

Sharon frequently speaks on game-based learning and learning design topics at the local and international level for eLearning Guild, ATD, CLO, Training Magazine, and other industry groups. She is also the author of numerous articles on game-based learning, learning science, and instructional design, as well as a book featuring team building simulations and games, Team Training. She also has an authoring credit for one of the chapter’s in Dr. Karl Kapp’s book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Field Book.

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