Gamification and Games-Based Learning Fundamentals

By January 20, 2016Gamification



We all know that gamification and game-based learning are the buzzwords of this time offering innumerable benefits.
Both gamification and game-based learning however, are not precisely the same.
Let us delve into the fundamentals of both gamification and game-based learning.

So what is gamification and games-based learning after all?

Though there are many definitions, I’d like to highlight a few comprehensive ones.
Gamification is defined as:

  • “a system in which players engage in an abstract challenge defined by rules, interactivity, and feedback, and that results in a quantifiable outcome often eliciting an emotional response.” (Karl Kapp, 2012)
  • “using game-based mechanics, aesthetics, and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems.” (Karl Kapp, 2012)
  • “the process of using game thinking and mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems”. (Zichermann, 2010)
  • “using game techniques to make activities more engaging and fun” (Kim, 2011)

Now if you take a close look at these definitions, you will notice that each key word exclusively makes sense.
Game-based learning is defined as:

“a knowledge transfer method that utilizes ‘game play’, which includes some form of competition (against oneself or others) and a reward/penalty system that essentially functions as an assessment method. Game-based Learning products have explicit pedagogical goals.” (The 2014-2019 Global Edugame Market, Ambient Insight, LLC)

In simple words, we can say that game-based learning is merely learning through games.


So what is the difference then?

Although there is an ongoing debate about the difference between gamification and game-based learning, we have to be careful not to conflate these two terms.
SpongeLab describes the difference between gamification and game-based learning this way:
“if a student is playing a videogame and learning from it, we aren’t witnessing gamification – the student is experiencing game-based learning.”
To make it even more simpler, we can say that:
In a game-based learning, the terminal learning objective for the course is converted into a game, where as in gamification, the specific sections of that course might have a gamified interface.


Although both gamification and game-based learning have the same end goal in mind, they use different approaches to reach that goal.
Understanding this difference between gamification and game-based learning can benefit us when selecting an approach that better serves the learning objective, as well as meets the learner’s needs.


How can learning programs hold a learner’s attention?

One of the things that learning professionals are concerned about is how can learning programs hold a learner’s attention.
Well yes, we all have been using interactivities in our programs, which has made learning really engaging and motivating. However, that doesn’t seem to be enough.
ELearning does a fair job by providing the learners with opportunities to engage with the training. This is achieved by using apt and adequate visuals, texts, interactions, animations, entertainment, etc.
A simple eLearning course could be gamified, by using relevant game mechanics.



For example: An inline assessment could be gamified by adding game mechanics such as:

  • Earning a point or a star for every correct answer.
  • Earning a badge on completion of various modules/lessons.
  • Adding an interesting element of time by timing all the questions (this again creates excitement in learning).

One thing that eLearning or game-based learning or gamification have in common is the fact that they all aim at getting the learners to engage with their training.
Well, gamification, actually gets the learners hooked!



For that reason, all the hype that has been created around gamification is totally warranted, with no signs of slowing down.
Gamification provides tremendous opportunities to increase the learning efficiency, and therefore proves to be the most effective technique.

Learning never stops!

Over the past few years, Exult has been partnering with some of the largest businesses in the areas of Healthcare, Manufacturing, Consulting and Tax Audits.
We have suggested and implemented gamification as a strategy for most of our clients and have also utilized it for our in-house programs.
Based on our strong Instructional Design practices and robust technology framework, we are able to deliver highly customized and scalable gamified learning solutions to cater to your requirements.
For innovative gamified learning solutions that can positively impact your organization:
Get in touch with us: +91 20 6792 0300 /


There is a famous saying: “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” This is exactly what gamification is all about.
Gone are the days of creating just an interactive, highly-engaging training and education.
Bring the fun element to your learning as much as you can.
Let’s embrace gamification by all means to create a sticky learning experience.


Book: The Gamification of Learning and Instruction – KARL M. KAPP

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