When is what more important

A question I would love to know the ultimate answers to is ‘when is what more important’? It may be a vaguely unspecific question, but sometimes I feel in gamification we are trying to solve everything with gamification. Whilst it may work, it may also not be that important.

In the instance of a crisis, gamification frankly is not that important and potentially dangerous. Imagine in the case of a fire, someone setting you a quest, where you have to unlock answers in order to get out of a building. Instead, you need clear instructions on how to get out, not some game mechanics in your way to solving the situation.  A checklist and route map for the emergency exit is much more essential.

In the case of raising awareness of procedures, before you ever need them but to embed them in our minds, gamification can be helpful. As a frequent flyer, I often find the safety instructions and interesting case. For the most part, they are boring, yet potentially lifesaving messages. Airlines such as Virgin and British Airways created a funnier instruction version of the plane emergency procedures, which when you see them even for the goodness knows how many-th time, can still make you smile. When you hear them the first time, you do a little bit of a double take, but after a while just like the traditional message you become used to it with a smile.

As we are working on some learning design related projects, the question came up of which game elements or interactions are more effective. Honestly, I can’t find data for it. I am searching and asking all learning connections for a while now and I usually draw blank stares or the sound of tumbleweeds growing. I haven’t found data that show when virtual reality is better, when a simulation is better, when a game is better, when gamification is better, when an infographic is better, when an animation is better, etc. etc. If you know where I can find it, please let me know in the comments.

For me, the first question is always, what is the purpose of the project? what are you trying to achieve and how will you know you have been successful? We can then identify whether gamification is appropriate or if something else is more important, like for example a process improvement, a technology change or just simpler instructions. In effect, if you have a process, you can gamify it. The question is, is it beneficial for the users interacting with this process to have it gamified. And if the answer is yes, then go ahead and start finding out what your users find fun and engaging, that way you have good chance to make it stick.

In some cases, you may find that a range of solutions may work to solve your problems such as gamification, augmented reality and virtual reality. The key to finding out which is most important depends on your target audience, their access and levels of comfort with certain technology, your budgets and time frames. Virtual reality by default requires you to wear a headset and step into a virtual environment, so whilst super efficient at creating an experiential and realistic environment to learn in, not the best for learning on the fly. Augmented reality may have the edge here, where a simple scan with a mobile device is able to beam up a video or instructions checklist. But having a mobile phone with a camera and the required augmented reality scanning software is also still essential to make it work.

The question that comes before ‘when is what more important’ in my view is what are you trying to achieve and why is that important and to whom. What matters to one group, may not have the same resonance to other groups. To bring your message across, you want to tap into the values that matter to your intended audience.



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