With the lack of proven long-term results from gamified content, especially compared with game-based learning’s successful track record, it’s a wonder why someone would use it in the first place.
As Elizabeth Lawley, Ph.D., of the Rochester Institute of Technology stated:
"Games can be powerful experiences, leveraging both motivation and engagement. The recent trend toward ‘gamifying’ applications, however, often reduces the complexity of a well-designed and balanced game to its simplest components, such as badges, levels, points, and leaderboards. The resulting implementations don't just fail to engage players; they can actually damage existing interest or engagement with the service or product."
Well. That doesn’t sound promising, does it?
Many will argue that gamification can be implemented successfully, so long as it’s done right. Go in the wrong direction, and you’ll do more harm than good.
“It’s not that gamification can’t work,” Ms Lawley continued. “But to be successful, it must include game design, not just game components. Games are not a replacement for thoughtful experience and interaction design; they are an alternate lens for framing that process.”
What does this all mean?
At its best, gamification temporarily motivates users to complete small tasks. That’s it. And that’s only if it’s done right! Your efforts will be recognized for a short time, if at all, and will be forgotten soon after.
But gamification can still be useful… if combined with game-based learning. Put these two together and you’ve got yourself a winning team, with gamification increasing engagement, and game-based learning picking up gamification’s slack to improve learning outcomes.
The Bottom Line
It really comes down to what players will learn and retain from how your content is absorbed.
There’s no denying that people will be lured in by their need to engage with your sparkly, new-looking, gamified stuff… for now. But if you want them to be engaged “forever,” merge your gamified content with game-based learning to get the most out of both worlds. For while gamification is all about looking the part, game-based learning is the part.
Kind of hard to argue with that.