Here’s an idea for a game: be bears. Just do bear stuff in a bear-like setting and people are going to go nuts over it. Rolling your eyes yet?
Well, there actually is a bear simulator out there in the video game world, and its existence proves that you really can gamify anything. Gamification is a new word for an old concept: using game elements to foster engagement. So you start with a bear. Put the bear in the woods and task him with goals (find food and catch ducks). Hide a few surprises and allow the player to uncover new content. Oh hey, the bear game suddenly turned into an e-learning course, maybe for forest rangers.
Gamifying your learning is taking the read-click-regurgitate learning model and flipping it on its head. It’s telling your learners that they’re going to need to use their brains today, because you aren’t spoon feeding them. You need to trust that your learners do want to learn, which is the first step to building a learning game that people enjoy. Of course it’s not just about enjoyment--the game has to get results, too. By living the life of a simulated bear, rangers can learn to help campers avoid bear attacks (hint: don’t leave apples lying around).
In theory, this all sounds silly. Couldn’t you get the same result by creating a slide deck highlighting common bear attractions? Well, we may be over-generalizing here, but if you know your audience you’ll probably know that park rangers aren’t likely to spend hours poring over slides, but they might take 20 minutes to play a bear simulation on an iPad. While out in the woods, of course.
That's really the point of gamifying your training, or even building a basic business simulation: bringing it to people in a format that is engaging, easy to consume, convenient, and occasionally fun. If you can create corporate learning that people find fun, you can change behavior and drive results.