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Gamification vs Game-Based Learning: Finding the Best Strategy for Engagement and Education

Published 22 days ago



The e-learning industry has transformed remarkably in recent years because of the newness of technology and varying learner penchants. There are some trends and innovations that are revamping the perspective of online learning. Gamification is certainly one of them.

The fusion of multimedia elements and gamification makes e-learning more enticing and captivating. This trend has completely changed the way training material is designed, implemented, and absorbed. 

You can also make your online courses more engaging and interactive, either by providing game-based learning to your learners or by integrating elements of game design in your courses. 

Most people think they are the same, but they are completely different. Before you decide which one is better for you, understand the difference between the two terms.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is the practice of using gaming segments in a non-gaming context. This is very helpful in engaging the learners in a course. 


Gamification and Game-based learning:

In this instructional method, games are used to improve learning. Learners learn while they play games in game-based learning. This is very effective when learning a specific skill and fosters critical thinking.  

In simple words, when you apply game elements to your current learning activities, it's gamification. And game-based learning drafts learning tasks that are built like a game.

Implementing Gamification in e-learning:

It's not an easy task to grab the attention of today’s learners in this information age. For this reason, most people are not hanging on to the outworn traditional way of imparting information from teacher to student. It is a proven fact that learners prefer tasks given to them as challenges as compared to boring tasks with no challenge or reward. This emotional motivation plays a big part in seizing the attention and interest of the learners.


Gamification is all about using game-based elements like badges, rewards, and leaderboards to attract and motivate learners in online learning. Gamification makes learning interactive and fun, which helps learners grasp the course material in a better way and enhances retention as well. Gamification enables trainers and educators to design captivating learning experiences for their learners.

Benefits of Gamification in Elearning: 

gamification in elearning

Increased motivation and engagement:

All human beings are curious by nature. As said by Aristotle, time passed. But traditional training methods never trigger this natural desire. But gamification can kindle this desire and make learning interesting. The desire to achieve goals and curiosity to learn forces learners to focus. Gamification allows e-learning professionals to design engaging courses for their learners. When learners get engaged, they take an active part in the learning process and stop being just non-active observers. 

Enhanced retention of information:

No matter what topic you design your e-learning course on, the main aim is to ingrain information within your learners. When they grasp knowledge completely through favorable experiences that you have provided through gamification, it will enhance knowledge retention.

Encourages achievement and builds confidence:

When learners get badges and awards and monitor their growth, they feel accomplished. By mastering the gamified tasks, learners improve their self-confidence in managing complicated subjects.

Challenges in Gamification:

it's beyond doubt.  Gamification is an effective tool for captivating users. But it has some challenges too. Let's look at them:

challenges in gamification

Risk of focusing more on rewards than learning:

Engaging learners through gamification is easy, but there is always a chance that the focus of learners may shift from learning to chasing badges. This can harm knowledge retention. Gamification systems can be good for short-term engagement, but it's difficult to hold user interest for long periods of time. Keeping learners engaged beyond early excitement is a big challenge.

May not suit many learners:

You can’t motivate all users with the same thing. And when you can't customize the gaming experience according to individual preferences, it can cause drop-off and dispassion.


What is Game-based Learning?

Game-based learning is a functional learning method that uses games to engage learners and enhance their learning. In this method, the learners learn by playing the game. This stimulates problem-solving skills. Studies show that gaming pedagogy is more effective than the traditional approach. And prepares learners to handle risks properly through their active participation.

Benefits of Game-based Learning: 

game-based learning

Promotes active learning and critical thinking: 

Most of the games in game-based learning require quick thinking from learners. Besides, to solve problems and finish all the levels, learners also need to use logic. This way, learners develop their lateral thinking. 


Simplified learning:

Most of the employees today use smartphones. By installing apps on their phones, they can learn online through game-based learning. As they are already familiar with their devices, this makes learning simple. And help them improve their productivity and skills. 


Learners keep information for a longer time:

Learners can imagine 3D models in real-time in game-based learning. This makes learning more relevant and enjoyable for learners. In this virtual world, learners use their imaginations to the fullest and explore possibilities interactively, and through interactive learning, learners keep information for a longer time.

Challenges of implementing game-based learning:

challenges of game-based learning

Higher development costs and time: 

it's difficult to find a suitable game as it can be expensive. Almost all digital games need electronic equipment, and that is costly. And if you want to make your own games, you need resources, and it can take a lot of time.


Aligning games with the curriculum is difficult:

Game-based learning is certainly very beneficial, but it’s difficult to deliver all the content in this way. The content must apply to the games to engage learners. With relevant subjects, the games also must not be too easy or too complicated for learners, or else learning will be difficult. So, educators must make sure whether the game-based learning approach is appropriate for that piece of learning or not.

Comparison of Game-based Learning and Gamification:

comparison of game-based

Engagement and Motivation:

In gamification, extrinsic motivators like points and badges are used to engage learners. Whereas game-based learning triggers natural motivation by making the learning process more engaging.


Gamification puts gaming elements in the existing curricula exteriorly. In game-based learning, learners learn by playing, which incorporates the learning content within the game.



Gamification is all about motivating learners to take part by engaging them. While game-based learning aims to master learning targets by playing games.

How to Choose Gamification or Game-based Learning: 

choose gamification

Both gamification and game-based learning have gained ground quickly in the world of e-learning, but there is always a question that arises. How do you choose between them? And which is better? Both approaches have their own benefits and can be effective in various situations. Let's look at some factors to ponder when you decide.


Learning Objectives:

You must clearly know what you want to achieve through these approaches. After that, you can decide on the learning strategy for your training requirements. Gamification is good for motivating and engaging learners in tasks that are usually boring. And for teaching complicated skills or concepts with an interactive approach, game-based learning is the best.

Evaluate your content:

It’s crucial to gauge the intricacies of the content that you are teaching. You can use gamification for easy topics where motivation is needed, like process training or compliance training. Game-based learning can create captivating simulations, so it's appropriate for imparting complicated concepts like decision-making and leadership development.

Look at the resources:

The resources that you have can help you decide which one to choose. You can implement gamification easily, as it just adds game elements to existing content. However, game-based learning needs more time, work, and resources to build personalized simulations. 

Survey your target audience:

Understanding the tastes of your target audience is very important. For some, game-based learning will be an interactive experience, and others may find game elements like rewards and badges more engaging and inspiring. Surveying both options with your target audience and getting their feedback is the best thing to do to know their preferences.


Time limitation:

Last but important, the availability of time for learning can be a deciding factor. It can determine which one to opt for. When learners have little time for learning, gamification can be effective with its capability to engage learners. Whereas game-based learning usually needs more time because of its interactive nature. 

Summing up:

Gamification and game-based learning are both potent and helpful tools for connecting with your learners. Not only are these strategies good at seizing attention, but they can also create suitable environments where learners can enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. However the choice between the two depends on the factors we have discussed above. However, you can also blend elements from both methods to provide your learners with an engaging learning environment. 


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