Do Demographic Differences Influence Your Gamification Designs?

We academic types are often critical of studies. In this case, the study I want to explore with you was a self-selected group of people self-reporting on an online survey. So, not very scientific, but some interesting things surfaced that impact the design of gamified learning programs.

“Demographic Differences in Perceived Benefits from Gamification,” Jonna Koivisto, Juho Hamari, Computers in Human Behavior, 2014.

The study was of a group of people using a gamified fitness app. Specifically, the researchers were interested in the demographic differences in how people interacted with the game mechanics and whether or not they found the mechanics beneficial. 

We can anticipate some of the findings, such as older people took more time to get comfortable with the technology, and younger people got bored with the game mechanics more quickly. But other findings are worth sharing here. 

First, the perceived enjoyment and usefulness of the gamification declined...

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Backward Day - Is it Time to Rip Up the Rule Book?


Backward Day is a fun day that encourages us to do things in an order that we would not usually do them. For example, we just ate dessert for dinner. A wonderful reversal of fortune. An unexpected eruption of hot chocolate and ice cream from an innocuous offering on the menu labeled simply as a "Dinosaur Egg." The dessert was so rich and delicious, it left us not wanting for any nutritious greens or protein. A healthy lifestyle choice? Not by any standards - but certainly acceptable on a day whereby you do everything differently simply because of its name. 

Although we may not have worn our clothes inside out or wore our underwear as our outerwear, we did spend some time today to examine status quo and ask if it was time to scrap our planned approach and do things differently. Sometimes it helps to rip up the rule book and look at things from a different point of view. If there is one day that you’re going to give this a try, this is the day to do it!


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It's National Puzzle Day


Puzzles are often overlooked by the gamification community. Let's use this day to think about adding puzzles into our programs. 

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What Haunted Houses Can Teach Us About Adult Learning Design

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

“It’s not gross; it’s slime.” the goblin kept saying as he touched our faces with something while we were bottle-necked in a dark, tight hallway. We were a group of undergrads giggling through our fear and creeps. And we paid what for us was good money for the experience. 

It’s odd that of all that happened during my undergrad years, the memories of that haunted house are vivid and specific. 

This is because of the amygdala, our brain’s early alarm system. Thy amygdala sits behind the eye and over our ear, and we have one on each side of our brain. These almond-shaped guys react to sight, sound, touch, and taste. And when the alarm goes off, they flood the bloodstream with stress hormones that increase the heart rate and respiration, and thus blood pressure.  

I remember the smell of the slime, how the air flowed through the haunted house, the sounds of...

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Five Steps for Creating Successful Gamified Learning Programs

Jonathan Peters, PhD
CMO, Sententia Gamification

There is an oft-quoted and perhaps overused prediction by Gartner that 80 percent of gamification efforts are destined for failure. (At least that was the prediction in 2014.) Given the prevalence of the Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule), we could say that, hypothetically, only 20 percent of gamification efforts in the Learning and Development space will be successful

Why will so many gamification efforts be unsuccessful if not outright failures? Could it be that designers and instructors simply slap some game mechanics on a program and declare it gamified? Instead of examining their programs and learners, and then strategically interweaving game mechanics, they settle for some points, badges, and leaderboards and wonder why they see very few changes. That’s like placing a cherry on top of a dish and declaring it a sundae. That one ingredient does not magically convert Brussel sprouts into a delectable dessert.


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The Surprise and Delight of Continual Learning…

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

I spoke at the Irish Game-Based Learning Conference this morning. Believe me, I would rather have been there in person if for no other reason than to be on their time zone (waking at 4:00 AM to speak does not fit my circadian rhythms).  

The conference was academically oriented with PhD candidates reading their abstracts. And, as candidates love to do, they shared their spreadsheets of keyword searches and literature reviews. Not only do I now have a great list of the all the categorizations of player and personality types (if you’ve read my book, you know how I feel about these), but I also have 17 game mechanics to add to our Master List. 

Since many of the readers of this blog have our book, which includes the exhaustive list of game mechanics that I had identified at the time of publication (161 mechanics), I thought I would share with you the new additions. 

And I’m...

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The Trouble with Pirates

By intentional design, the Sententia Gamification Level 3 Master Craftsman Certification is a 3-day Pirate Themed, immersive Master Mind event. From the location, to the food, scheduling of master mind vs. creative time, extra-curricular activities, and even the room set up, all are strategically mapped out to enable the participants to enter a magic circle of play and creation.

Once inside the magic circle, outside things do not distract – we take over an historic inn, in a little Texas town, where the streets roll up by 8:00 p.m. The learner’s focus is solely on the event and the activities taking place within that world.

This full immersion requires a form of submission to rules, involves a willing suspension of "normal" and a conscious and voluntary acceptance of the conditions of the master mind environment. Surprisingly, this in return, gives the participants unrestricted access to possibilities for full participation.

And we have successfully shaped and iterated...

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Prototyping for Learning and Development

By Jonathan Peters, PhD
Sententia Gamification, CMO 

Have you had this experience? You’re tasked with creating a learning program. You’re told by company leadership that there is a problem that needs to be fixed via training. You write down what they are wanting, the learning outcomes needed, and maybe (because you went through a Sententia certification) what their KPIs are for this specific program.

You spend months of time, and tons of creative energy, to create what you believe is an amazing program. It’s now ready to roll out. Learners are lined up, but first you present it to the higher-ups. And they say, “No, that’s not what we wanted…”

All that time and effort down the drain.

In the past, we’ve relied on documentation to avoid this situation. You would spend hours in meetings, making sure you understood exactly what they wanted. You would then write out detailed learning plans and guidelines, that you would send up the food...

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The State of Gamification of Learning

We believe in the benefits of the gamification of learning, but that’s because we’re in the business. But what about gamification from the employees’ or learners’ point of view?

TalentLMS recently conducted their 2019 Gamification of Work Survey, and they discovered some interesting, amazing, and empowering results. At the very least, the Survey shows that gamification in the workplace—and in learning in particular—is increasingly popular and prevalent.  

TalentLMS began with 900 US employees. The first question eliminated 42% of the dataset. When asked whether they noticed any gamification in an app or software they use at work, 374 of the respondents replied, “No.” If we assume that the gamification of learning, in this case of eLearning, then there is still a significant need to engage learners through gamification.   

From the remaining 526 people, TalentLMS pulled some interesting insights: 

  • Respondents said...
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The Most Boring Game Possible

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification 

Mauricio Delgado set out to create the most boring game possible and ended up discovering some interesting things about stimulating engagement. 

At Rutgers University, Delgado wanted to discover where excitement and anticipation originates in our brains, so he created the dullest of all possible games in an attempt to isolate other stimulants.            

He had participants lie in an fMRI. Above them was a monitor screen that would flash a number between one and nine. The game aspect of the experience involved guessing whether the number that was about to be shown was greater or less than five. When prompted, the participants click the appropriate number to register their guess. Then they’d discover if they guessed correctly or incorrectly.            

The participants were...

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