Drivers of Motivation and Gamification 

How Gamification elements motivate and engage learners - A Psychological Perspective

Gamification refers to a process of using gaming elements in non-game conditions with a purpose of reinforcing positive learning behavior.

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Gamification is the newly accepted norm in the Learning and Development field. Though many question the authenticity that gamification claims to offer- gamification elements  drive employee motivation and employee engagement. 

We qualified the top 7 gamification elements commonly used and mapped how they motivate learners. Each element had a different way of motivating and engaging learners. But, from a psychological perspective, each gamification elements falls under a different school of psychology. 

See Resource: How gamification elements drive employee motivation?

Here are the motivators that are derived from our Top 7 gamification elements. 

1. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT and ACTION-FEEDBACK

Points/Scores, Badges, Levels, Obstacle/Challenges-Performance Graphs motivate learners through reinforcement and immediate feedback.

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Taken from the BEHAVIOURAL PERSPECTIVE which states that learners will likely be motivated through gamification or game elements that provide immediate feedback either through positive or negative reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement can be in the form of accumulating points or badges, whereas negative reinforcement can be in the form of deducting points and losing hard earned badges.

These types of reinforcement are introduced into a learner’s environment to extract a desirable action from learners.

2. NEED FOR POWER/SUCCESS/ACHIEVEMENT

Badges and Levels motivate learners by fulfilling the need for power, success, and achievement. 

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Taken from the TRAIT PERSPECTIVE which states that there are few motives and needs that evoke motivation, categorized as individual characteristics which are stable over a period of time and influence behavior among individuals.

Individuals who have a strong power and achievement motive need gamification modules that help them achieve this motivation feeling.

Game elements that contribute to power and achievement motive are highly appreciated. This is because they emphasize the feeling of status and control.

3. NEED FOR COMPETITION

Points, Badges, Leaderboards, Obstacles/Challenges-Performance Graphs and Levels motivate learners through competition.

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A part of TRAIT PERSPECTIVE and directly linked with need for power and achievement, individuals are highly motivated when they compete against each other. Competition is not just restricted between individuals, but also among each other.

The need for power and achievement fuels the competitive spirit in individuals and increases their motivation. Gamification modules that have such a layout are usually highly appreciated.

4. COMPETENCY BUILDING

Leaderboards, competing with self in simulations, tasks/quests and badges motivate learners by fulfilling their need to prove themselves

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Taken from SELF-DETERMINATION PERSPECTIVE which states that individuals are concerned with behaving in a particular manner which supports their intrinsic motivation.

Individuals have this inherent need to prove their worth to themselves. By being rewarded, individuals feel competent and effective enough to deal with their environment. This increases their motivation. 

5. NEED FOR AUTONOMY

Choosing your own character/avatar provides individuals with the feeling of autonomy. Thus, increasing their intrinsic motivation. 

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A part of SELF-DETERMINATION PERSPECTIVE, focuses on an individual’s intrinsic motivation which guides their behavior. Autonomy provides a sense of control to an individual to decide whatever concers them. It is often related to control, power, and freedom.

6. GOAL SETTING

Levels, Badges, Obstacle / Challenges - Performance Graphs motivate learners by setting achievable goals. 

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Taken from COGNITIVE PERSPECTIVE- GOAL SETTING THEORY specifically states that individuals are motivated when they assign themselves a particular goal that influences their overall performance.

Goals that are specific and challenging in nature are more likely to motivate an individual than goals that are too easy or not specified.

7. NEED FOR IMPROVEMENT

Points, Badges, Leaderboards, Obstacle/Challenges-Performance Graphs motivate learners by fulfilling their need for improvement. 

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Taken again from COGNITIVE PERSPECTIVE which states that individuals are highly motivated when they understand the consequences of their action in a given situation and can improve upon it. This also linked with competency building as individuals can tap upon their mistakes and build their competency side-by-side.

Further Reading On Gamification

1. Basics of Gamification- Get introduced to all things that make up gamification- right from gamification definition to the 7 key gamification elements that make the gamification experience enchanting and engaging.

2. Different Types of Gamification and Choosing the Correct Strategy- Both the terms-gamification and serious games are used interchangeably, but they are different. Learn what the difference between them is, what are their characteristics, and when should they be used.

3. Benefits of Gamification over E-learning- Get introduced to the TOP 10 reasons why training leaders are vouching for Gamification over e-learning.

4. Top 7 Key Gamification Elements and Employee Motivation- Do the 7 key gamification elements motivate learners in any way? Read what the research on motivation says.

5. When to Use Gamification? Is gamification the magical elixir? Is it the solution to all the problems? Maybe not! Read the 4 situations that warrant the use of gamification.

6. How to Design a Successful Gamification Experience? What are the TOP 4 often overlooked gamification techniques that can make or break your gamification experience? Get the answer here to design an engaging gamification experience.

7. Implementing Successful Gamification Program- Get introduced to the “5-Step Method” of ensuring a successful gamification training campaign in your organization. Learn how to deliver right from planning, communicating, strategic partnership, to claiming success.