Over the past few years, gamification has risen to become a powerful tool that can motivate and engage people in many different contexts, from formal education to marketing and business. In corporate training, it can be utilized as part of a wider gamification strategy, integrating game elements to transform learning into a more engaging and effective experience.
However, in order to achieve success in implementing this strategy, it is key to understand the different elements that make up gamification. One of the most important of these elements – one which drives participation and stimulates players to achieve objectives – is rewards.
Gamification and its power to generate an emotional connection
The simple mention of the word ‘reward’ is in itself a powerful motivational driver. When users immerse themselves in a gamified environment, the experience appeals to their emotions and feelings, activating their desire for rewards. In fact, these emotions become a driving force for participation, involving users more deeply and making them feel more committed to the content. But how does this emotional connection work?
The search for pleasure is one of our most primitive instincts. Through a variety of strategies, games seek to induce the release of dopamine – a hormone connected to emotions – which provides that pleasure, in addition to a sense of well-being. For example, gamification typically presents users with a series of small challenges or stages to complete. Each challenge overcome represents an achievement for the user, and with each achievement dopamine is released.
The pleasurable sensation that comes with a dopamine release also stimulates the hippocampus, which in turn triggers various behaviors such as motivation, repetition and learning. In other words, our brain takes in the information associated with the achievement and subsequent dopamine release, and classifies it as something worth remembering.
This emotional connection, which is often overlooked in other learning approaches, plays a fundamental role in the effectiveness of gamification. But beyond this, participating in gamification has other advantages to the user – gamified experiences help to reduce stress and anxiety, elevate the mood, and contribute to self-esteem and personal satisfaction.
Types of rewards in gamification
It’s a well-known fact that people are usually more willing to participate in something if there are rewards involved. In fact, nothing motivates more than the possibility of being recognized and rewarded for our efforts. But what kind of rewards can we offer to our professional teams? Below, we take a closer look some of the most popular:
These are the most common type of rewards and, although they exist only on a virtual level, they are usually very effective. Virtual rewards can include points, badges, medals, virtual currencies (with different levels of value), or any other items that participants earn by completing lessons, tasks, or challenges. Virtual rewards often serve as symbols of progress and achievement, motivating users to keep moving forwards in search of more.
Unlike virtual rewards, these rewards are tangible. They can include physical prizes, products, discounts, or anything else that participants receive in the real world as a result of participating in a gamified system. Physical rewards add an additional emotional component to the game, as real-world benefits are highly desirable.
Status rewards appeal to the emotions more than any other type of reward. As we mentioned before, there is generally no greater reward than recognition for our efforts and achievements. Therefore, status rewards can include things like public recognition, and titles, medals or badges that users can display on their profiles. These allow users both to feel part of a community, and stand out within it.
Access or privilege rewards
Some gamification systems include rewards related to privilege, such as unlocking extra content, additional levels, and exclusive access to system features. Access or privilege rewards keep users engaged by offering the opportunity to access ‘special’ additional experiences.
Each type of reward has its own specific advantages and applications. The choice of which to use will normally depend on the objectives of the gamification and the audience it is aimed at.
Creating unforgettable experiences with gamification rewards: 3 strategies to achieve it
In gamification, the key to success lies in creating memorable and attractive experiences for participants. Rewards play a crucial role in this process, providing incentives that keep users engaged and motivated throughout. If you’re thinking about applying a gamification strategy to your corporate training, then you’ll want to take a look at the 3 strategies below for making the most of it:
1. Offer personalized rewards
Gamification should transform employee learning into a fun, motivating and engaging experience. Tailoring rewards to participants’ individual preferences is essential to achieving this goal. Personalization ensures that rewards are meaningful and relevant to each user, increasing their perceived value and deepening the user’s emotional connection to the system.
Adapting rewards based on job roles and individual skills also increases their relevance and impact in the real world. For example, recognizing and rewarding specific skills or work-related achievements encourages employees to keep developing those skills and apply them practically.
2. Design challenging but achievable rewards
Rewards that come from significant yet achievable challenges encourage continued engagement. Realistic but still challenging goals motivate users to work hard to overcome them, ultimately creating a rewarding sense of achievement.
You can also include simulated challenges or decision-making scenarios that encourage employees to apply their knowledge in realistic situations. The rewards given for successfully overcoming these challenges then reinforce the effective application of skills in the actual working environment.
3. Incorporate social rewards
Certain rewards promote social interaction, such as public recognition, or the ability to share achievements with the team. These reinforce a sense of belonging as well as increase motivation through social validation. At the same time, rewards that promote collaboration, such as team challenges, foster an atmosphere of community and collaboration within the company.
By applying these strategies in the corporate training environment through gamification, companies can create unforgettable learning experiences. Creating desirable and effective rewards that line up with business objectives and meet the needs of individual employees has multiple benefits. Not only does it improve participation and enhance learning, but also strengthens the wider corporate culture, driving employee growth and development.
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