It’s a passionate debate. Skeptics brush off gamification as nothing more than hype, while believers assert it drives engagement.
The reality is there hasn’t been any hard data in the public domain to support either side of the argument. So, the two sides have continued to square off with fiery claims that are based more on opinion than fact.
We think it’s time to get the truth out there and change the conversation. In June, 2014, we put together our report card about what works with gamification in learning. But this year, we’re taking our insights a step further and revealing data that proves gamification works.
Thousands of employees from the world’s leading organizations, including Walmart, Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, Bloomingdale’s, John Hancock, and more, interact daily with gamification elements delivered through the microlearning and performance support components of our Axonify Employee Knowledge Platform. This has allowed Axonify to build what we believe is the largest body of gamification-related data.
Based on a three-year analysis of more than 9.5 million sessions on the platform, we’d like to share our findings. The data shows gamification has a significant impact on employee engagement and that this higher engagement drives substantial knowledge lifts, which have huge business impact.
But before we get into the numbers, let’s get on the same page about what gamification means. While many interpretations of gamification exist, our definition aligns with Karl Kapp’s, a respected expert on the convergence of learning and technology. Kapp defines gamification as, “a careful and considered application of game thinking to solving problems and encouraging learning, using all the elements of games that are appropriate.”
Just to make this definition crystal clear, gamification is different from game-based learning. Game-based learning uses game play to help learners achieve a specific learning objective. It has a distinct starting point, followed by structured play and a defined ending. An example would be a game that simulates an operating room environment, which teaches surgeons how to perform a specific type of surgery.
Gamification, on the other hand, applies game-based mechanics and game thinking to help engage individuals in learning, motivate them to act, and foster ongoing learning. While it can include game play, it relies on other game mechanics as well— such as rewards, points, leaderboards, competition, and more—to make learning fun. An example would be a learning solution that employees would be encouraged to use daily. It would award points for correct answers to questions on particular topics, encourage employees to compete for prizes, and allow employees to play a game, while learning about subject matter that pertains to their role.
Axonify incorporates more than 15 game mechanics into its platform, including game play, points and rewards, leaderboards, badges, coaches, and more, allowing us to observe them in isolation as well as in combination with each other. Here’s how we know gamification drives engagement, which, in turn, leads to knowledge growth and business impact.