The 15 Best Gamification Resources for Trainers and Educators

If you read to the end of this post you get 10 Capterra points.

And if you share it on social media, you’ll earn another 25 Capterra points and advance to Level Three Capterranaut.

Businessman sitting on deck chair looking at holographic screen

What are Capterra points? Nothing. I just made them up. They don’t do anything, and you can’t turn them in for any kind of reward or tangible good. And being a Level Three Capterranaut confers no more benefits on you than being a Level Two does.

But before I told you that, you kind of wanted to read to the end of this post and share it on your Twitter feed, didn’t you?

That’s a (very bad) example of gamification at work: tapping into people’s natural competitiveness and desire to see tangible progress in order to encourage better results in education and business. Gamification (and its more mature elder brother, Game-Based Learning, or GBL) is one of those things that’s all the rage these days in the eLearning hype-sphere. It’s being hailed as the future of learning, and a bold new paradigm.

And it just may be.

To help you decide for yourself, and to give you the tools to try out gamification in your organization, I’ve put together the 15 best gamification resources below. They’re divided up from articles and guides, to more meaty books and blogs, to videos and webinars for when you’re sick of reading.


Free eBook: How Gamification Reshapes Learning

This free guide, from Christopher Pappas of eLearning Industry, is a 25 page treatment of gamification as it applies to learning and education. It’s a distillation of expertise from 23 of the top recognized gamification professionals and provides tips on the “effective use of Gamification in the learning process.” It serves as a great intro to the possible applications of gamification in your own organization.

Similarly, make sure to check out eLearning Industry’s Gamification Guide for Teachers that breaks down, step-by-step, how to implement gamification, along with examples.

“The Gamification of” Three Part Article Series

Learning Solutions Magazine hosts this informative article series from Karl Kapp (whose book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction is featured below). Each part looks at a different corporate training example, and how gamification was used to address specific challenges.

The first piece focuses on retail safety and loss prevention training for Pep Boys, the second piece on sales force training for ExactTarget, and the third piece on mobile training gamification for Cricket Communications. If you learn best with real-world examples, this series will be invaluable for you.

Gamification, Game-based Learning, Serious Games: Any Difference?

Don’t let the title fool you, this informative article is a nuts and bolts overview of the importance of gamification and how to do it. It breaks down in a straightforward fashion the elements of a good game and how to apply those to a learning project. Unfortunately it does require a free registration with Learning Solutions Magazine to read the whole thing, but it’s well worth it.

Designing Mobile-enabled Game-based Experiences

This is another article that requires free registration with Learning Solutions Magazine to read but, like the one above, is well worth the two seconds to enter your email address. The author here presents an easy-to-follow process for translating a mobile learning experience into one using game elements to increase engagement and interactivity. A case study helps to ground the lesson.

Free White Paper: Using Game Mechanics & Game Elements in Learning Games

Sharon Boller, lead designer of Knowledge Guru’s game engine, takes 25 pages in this white paper/eBook to detail the different elements of a successful learning game. She covers game rules (implicit and explicit), good and bad game mechanics (and how they can lead to engaging or boring games), and game elements like cooperation vs. competition and the element of chance. Case studies and examples are used throughout so you can see how these concepts play out in an actual learning game.

Gamification: Using Game Mechanics to Enhance eLearning

This article from eLearn Magazine is a cerebral treatment of the topic, for those wanting a little more psychological research and charts of gaming models. But don’t worry, the piece is very readable and provides a great higher-level way to think about eLearning games, as well as some additional, research-backed justification for doing them.


The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education by Karl M. Kapp

Kapp’s book is the definitive work for training and education professionals looking to sink their teeth into gamification. From clarifying what gamification actually is, to breaking down game elements and how they can be applied to learning, to delving into the higher level theories and research that show the efficacy or gamification, Kapp touches on everything involved in the eLearning game design process.

Case studies and additional perspectives round out the work, and a companion piece, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice expands on the original with a more concrete look at how best to apply game design theories to actual learning games.

The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game by Lee Sheldon

More focused on academic than corporate learning, this book examines popular games and how to apply concepts and elements from those games for more engaging learning and a better educational experience. The author himself uses these concepts in his own college classroom, including substituting “XP” (experience points) for grades, and involving students in a plethora of digital and board-based learning games. If you are a professional educator looking for new ways to frame teaching and concepts to students, this book is where you should start.


Yu-kai Chou & Gamification

Remember how I joked in the intro about you’re getting points for reading this post? The blog of Yu-kai Chou is not only incredibly informative when it comes to gamification, including a full video series introducing it, but actually DOES reward you with points for reading articles, commenting, returning to the blog and sharing content on social media.

Chou also has his own framework for analyzing gamification, and a slew of experience with enterprise gamification, and has spoken at Stanford, SxSW, and Tedx on the subject.

Kapp Notes

The blog of Karl Kapp (author of the gamification book linked to above) is an expansion on the ideas in his book with plenty of examples and resources he’s found. Recommended if you’re interested in concrete treatments of gamification theories, or if you need more resources on the subject.

Gamification Corp.

This blog/website, while not focused exclusively on gamification for learning purposes, is nevertheless a good resource for training professionals and educators alike interested in using game elements. Resources include a buyer’s guide, weekly webinars on different topics like gamifying MOOCs and low-tech gamification options for education, and blog articles running the gamut of gamification subjects.


Video: Integrating Game Design Principles into Instructional Design for e-Learning

Ethan Edwards, Chief Instructional Strategist for Allen Interactions, presents examples, methods, and game elements in this engaging 48-minute video. Especially helpful/cringeworthy are his examples of poorly designed games.

Video Series: The Beginner’s Guide to Gamification

This is a series from Yu-kai Chou, whose blog is linked above. Though a little hokey/hammy, it’s a good introduction to the concepts and elements of gamification if you’re looking for a good overview. The videos, at only eight minutes each, can also be taken in small doses.

Serious Game Design Tutorial Presentation

If you prefer bullet points to paragraphs, this presentation from the GameTech conference by Talib Hussain, a senior scientist at Raytheon, will be right up your alley. In it, Hussain breaks down different elements of designing a game into bite-sized slides and exercises.

Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning: Theories, Methods, and Controversies Slideshare

Sherry Jones, a professor of philosophy, rhetoric, and game studies, uses this presentation to analyze the difference between gamification and game-based learning in an insightful and easily digestible way. If you had any confusion on these two methods, this will dispel it. Tons of examples and sources complement her conclusions.


Did I miss any big huge gamification resources or tools? Is there some excellently written guide that I overlooked? Let me know in the comments below!

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