The Key Difference Between Serious Games and Gamification in eLearning

Serious games and gamification are two eLearning strategies (and current buzzwords) that can easily cause some confusion. They are similar and have similar uses, yet they’re distinctly different as well.

Serious games are games that have been designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. Gamification, on the other hand, is the application of typically game-like elements to other areas of activity such as marketing or training in order to increase engagement and effectiveness.

They offer similar benefits such as increased user enjoyment and knowledge retention, and both help to inspire and motivate learners to participate and achieve a higher potential. But there are key differences between these strategies that anyone deploying them in their eLearning strategy should understand.

Gamification takes game mechanics such as leaderboards, points systems, badges, and up-leveling in order to tap an eLearner’s natural human drive for competition and achievement. The game-like elements help incentivize learners to actively participate, increasing engagement. In order to deploy gamification properly, you must first understand your audience and what drives them, and pair those driving forces with the correct game mechanics that will activate them.

Serious games need no gamification as they already follow the typical game structure but are also designed to involve some form of training value in addition to pure entertainment. Serious games are ideal for positive reinforcement and just-in-time learning and should be considered an addition to an eLearning strategy and not stand-alone training content.

The key difference between the two is that gamification takes game-like mechanics and infuses them into traditional eLearning programs to increase participation and engagement, while serious games are full-blown games, with typical game structures, that also offer some form of educational value and not simply entertainment.

Think of gamification as adding game-like elements to your training course and serious games as adding educational value to the games themselves.

Interested in developing your eLearning strategy to incorporate elements of serious games and/or gamification? We can help! Contact us today to learn more about a tailored solution to drive results for your organization.

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