8 Gamification Strategies That Are Based On Psychological Principles


Psychological Principles To Apply To Your Gamification Strategies

Unfortunately, you can’t force employees to absorb the information and improve performance behaviors. Idle threats get you nowhere and there’s only so much internal marketing they can take. However, you can use training techniques that draw them in and take one very important factor into consideration: they’re human. Every member of the team is governed by psychology, regardless of their age, experience, or background. They’re all motivated by internal drives and aspirations, and want to achieve success on their own terms. What does that mean for your gamification strategies? Here are 8 psychological principles to bear in mind.

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8 Gamification Strategies And The Psychological Factors Behind Them

1. People Like To Be In Control Of The Situation

It’s not that we’re all “control freaks” who need to have a say in every aspect of our lives…or other people’s. However, we do like to have some element of control when it comes to our personal development. Training gamification should put learners in the driver’s seat. For example, they have the ability to make their own choices, even if it leads to undesirable outcomes. They’re also able to pick and choose training games that resonate with them or venture down certain in-game paths to focus on related skills or gaps.

2. Progress Tracking Motivates The Mind

Learners need to see where they’ve been and how far they’ve come to maintain the momentum, which comes in the form of gamification progress tracking. Include a bar, map, or other visual indicators of their current status. Another great way to help them monitor progress is to include feedback. Tell them what they need to work on and what they’ve improved since the last playthrough.

3. Humans Are Competitive By Nature

Some of us don’t want to admit that we’re competitive, but we are to some degree. Even introverts like to compete with themselves from time to time to test their mettle. And many learners enjoy pitting their talents against peers to see how they stack up. Do they have what it takes to make it to the top of the leaderboard or achieve the highest score? Successful gamification strategies include tapping into our competitive spirit without making certain learners feel isolated or uncomfortable. For example, give them the option to choose another reward system if they don’t like the leaderboard.

4. We’re Also Goal-Oriented

The only thing that equals our need for competition is our desire to achieve goals. Develop training gamification milestones that allow learners to measure their performance and tackle challenging objectives. For example, break a long-term goal into more manageable levels of training tasks. They’re able to check every item off the list as they progress and see which obstacles lie ahead.

5. The Brain Needs A Break From Training Boredom

The human mind can only handle so much boredom before it starts to wander off. This is particularly true in online training. Long presentations, manuals, and videos are often yawn-inducing. Gamification training should give your learners a break and allow them to refresh their mental synapses and engagement. They’re finally able to enjoy a bit of gaming that helps reinforce the information and facilitates real-world application, even if it’s a serious game that supports training objectives. For this reason, avoid excessive multimedia and information dumps that might overload their brains.

6. People Are Driven By Achievement

It’s that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you finally accomplish an insurmountable feat. You’re on top of the world, even if it’s just momentarily. We all strive for that sense of achievement, which is why gamification strategies are so successful in online training. It gives learners the opportunity to work toward a goal, develop relevant skills, and keep their eyes on the prize. Don’t just give them a virtual pat on the back when they reach the finish line. Recognize smaller accomplishments along the way, such as achieving the best scenario outcome or acing that compliance pop quiz.

7. Identifying Faults Is Essential For Growth…But Easier Said Than Done

Training is often a cathartic process because learners must identify personal pain points and address them. But this is challenging for most people. Nobody wants to point out their flaws in a public forum. As such, gamification strategy must be discreet and learner-centered. For example, participants don’t move to the next level unless they’ve proven their skill mastery. This is subtle feedback that identifies weaknesses without making them singled out. They always have the chance to reach out to peers for guidance if/when they need additional support.

8. Reinforcement Is The Mother Of Memory Retention

Reinforcement and repetition are crucial in gamification training. Our minds can only store so much information. Game-based learning breaks it down into memorable experiences that create an emotional connection. It also capitalizes on practical application, which makes the entire process more relatable and relevant. Learners can even repeat games to refresh their memory and bridge emerging gaps. Gamification/GBL is so effective because it’s experiential. Learners don’t simply watch a video clip or slideshow. They interact with characters, tools, and the virtual environment to get the information they need to resolve work-related challenges.


The most effective eLearning techniques are based on psychological principles. These gamification strategies enable you to engage learners, keep them motivated, and identify areas for improvement. They also enhance their ability to retain the information and apply it on the job. But it does require a high degree of personalization. Survey the team to disclose their drives and training preconceptions. Then use the data to design gamification experiences that are well worth the investment.

Find an eLearning content provider that understands your online training needs and specializes in gamification design. Our online directory has a broad range of outsourcing partners in your industry. You can also evaluate their ratings to see who delivers the best ROI.

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