What is eLearning Gamification?

eLearning Gamification

You know you have become an eLearning nerd when watching a movie all you think about is gamification and instructional design.

Elearning Gamification in Ender’s Game

I recently went and saw Ender’s Game, and love it. It’s about a kid named Ender who is a possible candidate to save the world from an impending alien invasion. They train him for a special mission at a school in space. During the movie Ender plays and interacts with a variety of game simulations and interactive graphics. It was cool eLearning game stuff!

Here are some of the eLearning technologies I saw in Ender’s Game:

  • Ender carries some kind of mobile learning game device that simulates game scenarios and interacts with other students through a flight simulator.
  • Instead of having a chalkboard, they have an interactive board in which the teacher is showing animations and graphics to show what happens during certain cosmic events.
  • They have a simulation room. A place where they students can practice/experience combat and strategy in a zero gravity environment.

The take away I see is the game technology used in Ender’s game can be used in eLearning today and gamification has a great future. But first…

What is eLearning Gamification?

Gamification is visual storytelling, feedback, and visual cues. It is measureable and has an objective for the learner. It reinforces previous learned behavior or facts. It’s a trick the learner to play a fun game that results in retaining information. Gamification allows the learner to explore information in a way that doesn’t feel like a test. These are part of the elements for awesome eLearning games.

Remember, Gamification Does Not Equal Games

Gamification does not equal games. There, I said it. Let’s not get the two confused. Games are for fun and relaxing. Gamification takes the best elements of games and applies them to a learning situation. By utilizing game elements we can improve the retention of our learners. Gamification adds an extra layer over existing activities.

Bring Gamification to Life

In my past job, I worked for an Aviation College. One of the activities I built was a hypoxia chamber interaction. Hypoxia happens when your brain is deprived of oxygen. Pilots will go to places that have a hypoxia chamber to experience hypoxia. So they can learn how to manage and what to do if they ever experience it while flying. My version was in Adobe Flash and not in a hypoxia chamber. I had to simulate the activity. I started by asking the students to trace a few shapes, do a few math problems while the chamber changes altitudes. While in a simulated high altitude, they were instructed to trace shapes and do math problems again. But this time, the curser shook, and the math problems would change (with hypoxia your problem solving ability is that of a 5th grader). This course allowed them to experience hypoxia and they never even left their seat.

Gamification doesn’t have to be complicating. For example, I love to run. I regularly use a running app called, Strava. The app lets you challenge and compare with other runners throughout the globe. It congratulates me when I hit a new personal record. It allows me to follow other runners and their accomplishments. I can comment on their runs. This has gamified my running and is good example of gamification. It reinforces good habits, and I enjoy running even more.

Using eLearning Gamification

Gamification increases user engagement, can influence behavior, and motivate participation. These are all very measurable. If you are using eLearning games for training this will directly affect your bottom line. If the simulation is remember-able, your workers will use what was taught and apply it. They may go back and play it over again and again. They will want to learn the next module. It can help rebuild the culture into a learning/training machine.

What have you done to help others in eLearning gamification? What kind of scenarios have you enjoyed that have helped someone learn something?



  1. Awesome article! So many sci-fi narratives have great gamification. You picked the best one, i.e. “Enders Game.” I’m inspired to write a follow-up.

  2. Great article! I do find myself explaining the difference between a traditional game and eLearning gamification to clients when scoping a solution. Your ideas will certainly help clarify my explanation.

  3. Thanks Nate! This is a topic very close to my heart, and I quite liked the way you have setup the discussion. Great article and examples…

    Catherine: I have spent a lot of time researching a conceptual framework that helps differentiate gamification from gaming, simulation or serious gaming for that matter. The framework can be found on slide 3 of the presentation below:


    In summary, gamification is at the intersection of “business application” and “elements / game mechanics” e.g., points, badges, leaderboards – basically drivers of human behavior, but not necessarily a fully packaged game with a title, characters complete storyline. Whereas games, simulations, serious games do not use elements of game design, rather game provide an end-to-end game like experience. Other way to think about it is that games have a plot (to borrow from my theater workshop, it needs to have a premise, build-up, conflict and resolution/climax), whereas gamification is like a news bulletin.

    Each of gamification and gaming have their own purpose and place. The slide 4 contracts the pros n cons of the two. Gaming is a great tool when depth of immersion or simulation is required. But for more practical purposes, and for agility, I would recommend gamification.

  4. Great article Nate. Gamification is truly a great way to engage the learner. I only hope that at the end of all gamification scenarios we can all meet with a surviving member of the alien race and search for new hope.

  5. Great Article, will check out Ender’s Game… sounds interesting.

  6. Any example of Gamification?


  1. Session 9: Gamification and Simulation | etec541csusb - […] Nate, B. (2013, Dec. 4) What is gamification? eLearning Brothers.   Retrieved from http://elearningbrothers.com/what-is-elearning-gamification/ […]

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