Thursday, August 27, 2015

Put Gamification to Work in Talent Development


Gamification invites people to participate and engage by integrating game mechanics and game dynamics into non-game contexts. My favorite space to use gamification is in the area of Talent Development.
By adding game mechanics to training, Gamification not only increases interest, it makes training FUN! 
The goal is to increase learning and engagement through key concepts found in game design and behavioral psychology. When participants first encounter the game, they rely upon a combination of visual cues, called game elements, to not only understand how the game is played, but also how success is defined and determined.

The most common include: 

Points - People love piling up points. They love to earn them, bank them, and make sure others know how many points they have. Usually participants can spend points to unlock access to content, or to “acquire” virtual goods, or to even gift their points to other participants. In short, people love to be rewarded even if there’s no monetary value associated with the reward. 

Badges, Trophies, Achievements - Trophies, badges, ribbons, etc. are the visible recognition of having reached new levels or completed challenges. Challenges give people goals and the feeling that they’re working toward something. Once a level or challenge is completed, participants expect some type of recognition for the milestone. As silly as it might seem, trophies and badges matter; they are visual markers of attainment. 

One of the keys to making levels and challenges effective is providing a forum for users to show off their achievements, like a trophy case or user profile page that displays their badges. You can also display the various badges that a player has yet to collect or earn. The display of unearned badges helps create motivation to keep earning and achieving; to say it another way, it increases and sustains engagement.

Levels - Levels are an indication that you’ve reached a milestone or overcome a specific challenge. Once a gamer completes a level and moves to the next one, status is obtained among other participants. Levels are often defined as point thresholds. Think of it like frequent-flyer programs. Amassing points isn’t enough; people also want to attain certain levels such as gold and platinum. They do enjoy certain privileges at that level, but more often they want others to know about the level they’ve reached. They enjoy having a different boarding line. 

Rewards/Unlocks - Games typically give players a payoff, even if it’s only the enjoyment of playing. It is important to realize that participants in a gamified training activity want some sort of payoff. In training and development, tangible rewards could be as simple as increased recognition or some other work-related perk such as flexible work hours. The best reward systems combine reward types. It’s also important to the players that the reward structure is clearly explained. Confused players quickly lose interest in the game. 

Collections - In games, people often gather collections of items. These collections create a level of complexity in a game. Simple points, levels, and rewards are not enough. Gamers like the added challenge of completing collections. Think of baseball cards or porcelain figurines. Once someone begins assembling a collection, they want to complete it, until every item of the collection is acquired. Usually it is easy to get the initial pieces of a collection, but as the game progresses, it becomes more difficult to complete the collection.  

Leaderboards - Leaderboards increase competition. When participants see where they stand in relation to their peers, they work extra hard to surpass them. Often bragging rights are a bigger reward than other types of motivators. 

Player Pieces or Avatars - Pieces or avatars show that the person is a player and they are in the game. They give people an identity within the game. Players often develop intense loyalty to their avatars, working hard to make sure they represent their avatar well. 

Maps or Game Boards - Maps act as a reference point for players. They can see where they are, where they’ve been, and where they need to go. A good map also shows participants where they are in relation to the other players.

Narrative or Instructions - Each challenge should ideally have its own narrative or description in order to build a more substantial environment for the player. In games, they are not simply playing, they are also participating in a story. They are part of a made-up and challenges have a purpose in the narrative. 

And those are just the starting point for how gamification design can be used to enliven your training and development programs. When you put gamification to work, you’ll realize participants are eager to get involved.

More Articles to Get Started with Gamification: 

Take the first step, to begin an adventure that will benefit you and your organization. Do you realize that among the people reading this article, you may be the one who grabs this opportunity to take the first step? Get started with a Level 1 Gamification Certification for Talent Development Professionals.

Here's an unlock for you - use the coupon code SEN_FRIEND and receive a 50% discount when you register before 8/31/15.

About the Author: Monica Cornetti
Founder and CEO, Sententia

A gamification speaker and designer, Monica Cornetti is rated as a #1 Gamification Guru in the World by UK-Based Leaderboarded. She is the author of the book Totally Awesome Training Activity Guide: Put Gamification to Work for You, writes The Gamification Report blog, and hosts the weekly Gamification Talk Radio program.


  1. Great article! I've been very interested in how companies can better motivate their employees. I have seen firsthand how employee motivation and drive impact the effectiveness of the company, and ultimately the bottom line. Eager to learn more about gamification!

    1. Hi Joseph, Thanks for writing. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. I hope you'll join us for our next online Gamification Certification which begins September 8th. You can find more info at this link: To register, please use the coupon code SEN_FRIEND and receive a 50% discount (if you register before 8/31/15)

    2. Thank you, Monica! I'm registered for the course and looking forward to it!!

    3. GREAT! Glad to have you with us. I look forward to working with you on your gamification design elements!!