The Gamification of Learning – A CEO’s Perspective

By June 25, 2021No Comments

Highlights and unconventional food for thought for Learning & Development (L&D) practitioners as SelfDrvn CEO Lam Mun Choong discusses the Gamification of Learning in a podcast with Amit Garg, Founder & CEO of Upside Learning Solutions


If you want learning to be engaging, before gamification – you have to make sure the fundamentals are correct:

(1)   Is the learning relevant to the job?
(2)   Has the benefit of the learning – its relevance to the skills/competency/performance of the employee’s job, been well articulated to the employee?
(3)   Is the learning content flow well designed? Is the content good quality? Are learning instructions clear? (“If the movie script is terrible, no amount of ‘special effects’ is going to save the movie”)

Gamification only comes into play after the fundamentals are in place, to trigger positive human emotions so learners are more immersed and can take more out of the learning experience.


When humans are given a choice they are more motivated, so the common organizational approach of pushing 1-size-fits-all curriculums are fundamentally demotivating.

Give learners autonomy to decide what and how they want to learn, but nudge your learners towards what is important by associating different rewards and recognitions to different modules of learning (learners can decide if they want to “climb Everest, a smaller mountain, or just a hill”).

Giving learners a choice in learning journeys may also help organizations uncover hidden talents among the 80% of graduates who study for degrees they are not interested in.

A graduate forced to study Accountancy by family, who then joins an accounting firm, is by default probably already disengaged from accounting as a topic, so forcing learning of more accounting modules is unlikely to be well-received.

By allowing learners autonomy to choose from a range of learning options, you enable learners to discover what they are really passionate about, and what contributions they will be willing to commit their talents towards.


A client who wanted to encourage self-directed learning found that many employees cared about sustainability and the environment – so a gamification mechanism was set up that ‘planted trees in the system’ every time learners completed learning modules.

At year’s end, the company made donations to plant the equivalent number of trees in real life, aided by the same employees who made the initiative possible.


Games are successful because they are designed with the user/player as the hero.

Many companies are NOT employee-centric, and apply ‘candy-fication’ – sugar-coating concepts that are inherently not what employees want, in order to make them more palatable.

But savvy employees will see through this, not see the benefit to themselves, and again will not engage.

There is a thought process to gamifying any worthwhile journey in order to achieve tangible results.

For example, how SelfDrvn helped a client gamify how employees were onboarded onto a new Learning Management System and achieved 82% adoption in 20 days of launch, to drive momentum for building a self-directed learning culture in the organization.

Contact us for a no-obligation consultation and demo if you have similar goals of making learning a priority in your enterprise.