Big Bang Theory Cast

The Power of Casual Gameplay

In Gamification by JD Dillon

Whenever I demonstrate the Axonify Employee Knowledge Platform for a new audience, someone usually asks about the casual gameplay element. “What does the game have to do with the learning?”

For context, a user can choose to play a game as part of their daily microlearning session (example screen below). Games vary in type and complexity and include several familiar titles, like Snake, Bubble Shooter and Memory Cards. Game time is limited to ensure the microlearning experience takes only 3 – 5 minutes during a busy employee’s day.

Axonify Game Selection

Axonify Game Selection

However, the game has nothing to do with the learning experience. Users simply engage with content – such as video and questions – while playing. So why include the game?

  1. Games are fun (for many people) and bring users back to the learning experience more frequently (more than 3x per week on average).
  2. Gameplay puts the user into a flow state, which drops their mental defenses and eliminates distractions, thereby increasing their readiness for learning.
  3. Users who choose to play a game engage in learning experiences more frequently AND demonstrate greater retention over time.

To illustrate this idea, I often ask the audience to think about a time when they tried to interrupt someone who was playing a game. What happened? They inevitably had problems getting the player’s attention due to that same flow state we leverage within Axonify.

I was watching old episodes of The Big Bang Theory during my flight last night and came across the following scene which (comedically) demonstrates this exact point.

Next time, rather than attempt to explain the science behind our casual gameplay strategy, I’ll just defer to Leonard and Sheldon. 🙂

  • JD Dillon is the world’s foremost expert on frontline learning and enablement. He is also one of the most prolific authors and speakers in the workplace learning community. For 20 years, JD has worked in operations and talent development with some of the world’s most dynamic organizations, including Disney, Kaplan and AMC. He is the founder of LearnGeek, a workplace performance advising and insights group. He is also Chief Learning Architect with Axonify, where he builds technology, content and services that enable frontline employees around the world to do their best work every day.