In a previous post (
I cited a prediction from Gartner that by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design. *After stating this prediction Mr. Burke went on to clarify by saying “The focus is on the obvious game mechanics, such as points, badges and leader boards, rather than the more subtle and more important game design elements, such as balancing competition and collaboration, or defining a meaningful game economy.” The above mentioned percentage might scare off a few decision-makers at first glance. But one must realize that good gamification design is the secret to making the training program a success, let’s examine a few of the key elements below that will lead to a successful implementation of gamification through simulation within your organization.

You may have heard the phrase “Build it and they will come”, well the same holds true when building/designing around a gamification process through simulation. Whether it is developing customer engagement platforms or employee/ student training, gamification certainly has a wide array of applications. By leveraging the unique elements in which games encompass, one can easily run a successful training program.

According to Gartner (, gamification will be in 25 percent of redesigned business processes by 2015. This percentage equates to a large number of simulations being developed to engage the business user. Below are a few thoughts on key aspects of gamification to incorporate in order to make your next project a success!

1)      Make sure the game applies to real-world objectives. Without this the user/ learner has no motivation to train up. Why train/learn if the material presented isn’t applicable to real life and the training environment does not match what one experiences and sees in the ‘real-world’? In a business setting this equates to designing solutions that encompass the creativity and tools that a game designer possesses but coupling it with what the business manager expects of an employee. It’s a very thin line to match these two types together and create an engaging experience for the learner to learn the material being taught.

2)      Game mechanics. Huh? All of you non techies/non game nerds out there may be wondering what I am referring to so let me explain…In theory, all games use mechanics. While they may not be noticed by the player/ user; nevertheless they are there and hidden behind the scenes. Game mechanics should allow for an engaging user experience if and when they are crafted right.

3)      Design values. This refers to the use of entertainment value for the user. The user does not want to sit down in front of the computer and look at a boring page turner-like PowerPoint. Rather they must be immersed in a simulation in a variety of ways. From relating it to the real world with material taught and overall design elements. A few such examples include the use of sound (this could range from music to voice over talent) and an intuitive design (making the interface user friendly and easily navigable). It also doesn’t hurt to make text effortlessly readable and the simulation as a whole visually attractive.

4)      Hollywood-like entertainment. Not only do you want the user to draw on a real experience within the simulation, but you must also offer the opportunity for the user to drive the experience.

5)      Rewards and feedback. What’s a game without interaction with the user? In order to provide for interaction the best way is to utilize rewards and/or a feedback system.

If you are unsure as to when to use gamification, or if gamification is right for your organization to implement in training initiatives, Karl Kapp provides some further qualifications on the topic in a recent blog post ( he wrote: “Gamification can be used to accomplish a number of goals related to learning. As with any learning intervention, gamification is not the answer to every learning situation and to gamify all content or learner experiences does not make sense. Gamification is especially effective when it is used to encourage learners to progress through content, motivate action, influence behavior and drive innovation.

Let’s further sum up what Karl stated and that is these 4 essential elements within gamification design:

1)      Content

2)      Action

3)      Behavior

4)      Innovation

As you can see the framework for effective game design can be complicated at times. It’s always important to remember that by engaging trainees with game-like thinking and mechanics, you give the users a sense of control. It’s the power to make decisions and realize the implications of those decisions in a replicated environment much like real life that make the simulation so real.

In certain instances it may be difficult to present these ideas through gamification and simulation due to the content to be covered. One must choose the best design for content given the nature and topics to be covered. Initial adopters that have jumped on the gamification bandwagon have for the most part claimed success; there is however a select few programs that have failed mainly due to the poor design elements incorporated as well as other key elements that they missed out on implementing.

There will always be skeptics of this type of training method, but they must realize that ‘games’ have become an everyday way of life. Mission-critical business goals can be learned by gamification if presented in the right manner through simulation. The gamification of learning/ training can be extremely impactful if used in the right context with the correct processes. Not everyone is a game developer, but if you think like one you may just in fact be one of the many statistics in the near future of successful gamification implementation through simulation. Good luck!

Copyright 2013 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.