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Gamification vs Game-Based Learning - Is There A Difference?

Gamification vs Game-Based Learning - Is There A Difference? | FGS Recruitment

Talk of gamification has been high amongst the learning & development industry but what is it? And is there a difference between gamification and game-based learning? Read on to find out…

The gaming industry is huge, how many of you have played Candy Crush or the latest craze, Pokemon Go? My bet is if you don’t play games, then you know someone who does.

Now, what about if you took the concept of gaming to the training industry, it would make learning a lot more interesting wouldn’t it; particularly for visual learners and those who prefer self-study over classroom-based learning. If you fall into the online learning camp, then you’re in luck; the latest addition to learning is gamification, but what is it?

What is Gamification?

Gamification has picked up the pace in the last few years and some could say it is now the norm with the majority of e-learning including a form of gamification.

It’s easy to assume that gamification is a means of learning whilst playing a game however gamification is, in fact, different to gaming but similar principles apply. Gamification is the integration of game theory and design into a non-game experience with the aim of increasing engagement, motivation and participation.

If you are familiar with gaming then you’ll know that you receive rewards, points and level ups and this is what draws people back to the game. Integrating this into e-learning provides the same outcome, it can get people hooked and in turn encourages learning.

The trick is to ensure that you don’t get carried away with a flashy interface and remember the reason for creating the learning program initially, ensuring it’s focused towards your business goals.

Gamification Elements


Points are a great motivator when it comes to gaming. Integrate this into your next training course by giving learners the opportunity to compete against each other or compete against their own previous scores. Depending on the learning behaviour, learners can either earn points individually or as part of a team.


Leaderboards in gamification are not for everyone, however, a little bit of friendly competition is harmless. Leaderboards can encourage users to interact with each other when used in business learning programs. The most important thing to ensure is that leaderboards do not discourage learners.


For some people, helping others by sharing knowledge is a reward in itself. Add in the ability for people to be able to answer questions and teach others.


Rewards can come in a variety of forms and can be implemented in a variety of ways. Rewards can be random, fixed or time dependent and physical. Delight learners by adding some random rewards into your gamified training program. Include time dependent rewards to ensure people come back each day for the reward meaning they have to be there to benefit. Fixed rewards are defined on actions such as completing a ‘level’. Physical rewards can be a fantastic encourager and promote lots of activity whilst creating engagements.

What is game-based learning?

Game-based learning uses real games to support or teach a new concept or skill. It draws learners into virtual environments that look and feel familiar. This is motivational as users can quickly see the connection between the learning experience and real-life work.

How companies are using game-based learning

McDonalds is turning to games-based training with for meal prep training for its staff this autumn. This training is needed as McDonalds is taking a new approach to food preparation at many of its restaurants with food being prepared as it’s ordered instead of stacking burgers ready to go. In order to train management on this new system, McDonalds will use a 3D virtual reality game that simulates the new approach. This environment will allow the learner to virtually walk through a McDonalds restaurant and react to changing scenarios. (Source)

Not exactly training but still amongst the same lines, the U.K. equivalent of the NSA, British intelligence and security agency, the GCHQ, created an encrypted message on a website and used it as part of their application process for all wannabe spies and hires. Candidates had to crack the code and decipher what the hidden message was in order to advance in the process. (Source)

In conclusion; yes, there is a difference. Gamification is about taking the principles of gaming and implementing the elements into a learning program and games-based training is more focused around learning through gaming.

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