Top 5 Tips to Choose the Best Gamification Design Elements

Gamification is being extensively used in eLearning to drive engagement and motivation with the use of game design elements. Acquiring virtual points, completing a series of activities, and competing with fellow learners do bring a fun element to an otherwise severe curriculum. They also stimulate the learner to learn or gain more knowledge, besides helping them easily comprehend difficult concepts.

However, gamification isn’t about the random placement of design elements. It’s a careful study of design principles involving psychological factors. A good gamification design motivates the learner. Hence, when starting with creating a gamification design, it would be ideal to keep the end goal in mind – be it business benefits, learning goals, and so on. That would make it easier to select the right elements for the gamification design.

While there is no one framework or design to suit all learning needs, typically, there are five essential factors that bring out the best in a gamification design.

“Gamification is 75% psychology and 25% technology.” – Gabe Zichermann, a gamification expert and Founder & CEO of Gamification.Co

How to identify the right gamification design elements

It is important to note that replication of an existing gamification design may not necessarily work each time. Every design should ideally bring out personalization for the learner. There also needs to be a balance between all the elements. Overdoing any one element, simply because it seems to click, cannot be the basis of a gamification design.

So, what are some of the best elements that should be introduced in an gamification design for eLearning – without making the elements too obvious?

Here are our top five tips for getting it right:

1. Storyline – A gamification storyline must capture the audience, right at the beginning. It needs to be engaging to grab and sustain the attention of the learner. For example, you can personalize your content or capture the learner’s name, right at the beginning.

These techniques to introduce immersion put the learner in the thick of the action. Having great graphics definitely helps, and so does maybe adding some challenge for the learner. Thus, a compelling and engaging storyline builds the excitement for the completion of a course.

2. Rewards – Rewards provide extrinsic motivation to a learner. A sense of achievement or recognition push the learner to achieve more. Some gamification designs do include penalties as well, though these may not necessarily work.

Instead, badges and stars which are awarded for completing specific actions have proved to be more effective. It helps if the rewards and penalties are closely connected or associated with real-life learning outcomes. Another good idea is exchanging reward points for merchandise or collectibles.

3. Competition – Timers and countdown clocks work great to make the game more interesting. Creating a sense of urgency often helps the learner focus on the task at hand. A gamification design can also have learners compete against themselves. For example, having a leaderboard in the gamification design can provide learners a chance to better their scores.

4. Progression – This is about the way the levels are designed. Progression would mean that higher levels have increased complexity or tougher scenarios which require the learner to go through the multiple learnings they have done till then and apply those.

Learners get satisfaction from successfully completing increasing levels, and this motivates them to put in continued efforts. There could also be increased rewards or increased penalties. Course completion certificates and badges are good examples of progression elements to be used in a gamification design.

5. Feedback – Learners need to know how well they are doing. A performance meter, for example, after every question, can be a good idea to provide the much-needed timely reinforcement. Feedback can be in different formats such as progress bars, encouraging messages, and so on.

In fact, one can also add information nuggets as a feedback mechanism for a wrong answer. Be it immediate feedback or delayed feedback, adding this element to the gamification design makes learners aware of their skill development.

The final trick lies in how all the gamification design elements are assembled to create a lasting experience for the learner. This means an interesting narrative will need a responsive interface along with a dynamic feedback mechanism to collectively enhance knowledge retention.

While that may sound exhaustive, it isn’t about a complex design. Simply put, a good gamification design will have the best elements incorporated into the core of a learning course. It will have a combination of some or all these elements to capture the learner’s interest.

The Octalysis Framework for gamification design

Yu-Kai Chou, a gamification pioneer, designed the Octalysis framework which identifies the eight core drives within humans that motivate us to take up different tasks or activities.

The objective of this blog is not to dive deeper into the Octalysis Framework. However, it would be good to know that any application or experience needs to have at least one of these core drives to engage the user in a real learning experience. These drives throw light on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation factors in humans, and hence make it easier to design a gamification framework.

The Octalysis Framework for gamification design

Harbinger recently helped a US-based fast food retain chain with scenario-based gamified training to train their drive-thru workforce using real-life experiences. Our fun and engaging gamified training solution motivated the workforce to achieve perfection and helped them learn quicker and deliver on the brand’s standards.

Harbinger’s expertise in eLearning gamification

Gamification is one of the most promising ways of elevating learner experience and creating impactful learning. Harbinger’s gamified instructional solution has helped multiple organizations deliver effective business results using a variety of authoring tools like Storyline, Captivate, and HTML5. More so, its award-winning gamification framework has allowed organizations to rapidly add gamification elements to eLearning in a cost-effective way.

Harbinger recently hosted a Power Hour on ‘What Businesses Need to Know about Gamification in Learning’ with industry experts Paul Schneider, SVP – Business Development, dominKnow; Jeanne Bakker, Founder of Brain Bakery; and Vikrant Nene, General Manager – Capability Development, Harbinger Interactive Learning. This interactive webinar was hosted by Dr. Vikas Joshi, CEO of Harbinger Group.

What Businesses Need to Know about Gamification in Learning

In this session, Vikrant shared interesting ways in which Harbinger uses gamification to quickly develop varied learning experiences. He also gave several examples of different gamification design elements for specific learning objectives.

Gamification is preferred because it triggers human emotions such as excitement and accomplishment for effective learning as well as makes learning more visible. If you too are keen on knowing how gamification can make your eLearning content unique, do reach out to us at

How to Build a Gamification Strategy – An Expert View

Gamification strategies are one of the best techniques to improve knowledge retention. In eLearning, a gamification strategy involves using unique gaming elements and techniques to stimulate the learner’s interest and increase their participation. It has also proven to be helpful in increasing collaboration between learners, when applicable, and enhance their cognitive abilities. In fact, the rising inclusion of gamification in eLearning is one of the top reasons for the latter’s market growth.

Well-designed gamified content focuses on leveraging intrinsic motivating factors in the user to encourage them in the learning process. For example, the leaderboard is one type of game design that challenges users to compete against one another and finish the task. Then there are reward programs like badges and points to push learners to keep learning. Gamification creates an emotional connect between the learners and the content. Surprise elements, hidden challenges, and so on, keep up the engagement levels with the content and ensure course completion.

That said, there are different gamification elements that incentivize learners to perform better and induce a positive learning attitude. As gamification analyst Karl Kapp rightly puts it, “Gamification is the cover to add the interactivity, engagement, and immersion that leads to good learning.”

On that note, let us look at the key aspects of building a gamification strategy.

The Mechanics of a Gamification Strategy

A popular perception of gamification is that it is most suited for a younger audience. The truth is, gamification can make any content engaging and much more compelling for any type of learner age group. Gamified content offers real benefits to the learner, bringing in excitement and a fun element to ensure course completion.

The first step is to identify the learning objectives and understand the target learners. Accordingly, learner-centric gamification elements need to be designed. User character types often play an important role at this juncture. Keeping in mind the audience and their needs, the design strategy progresses.

Kapp says, “Gamification is not bounded by technology or the need to be delivered online; it doesn’t have to be digital. Instead, gamification is a design sensibility.”

Several gamification components can be used to increase learner engagement, as standalone elements or in combination. For example:

  • Progress bars are useful for motivating learners to finish uncompleted tasks
  • Rewards for unlocking new levels, achieving higher goals, and incentivizing positive actions
  • Badges work great for accomplishments
  • Points and scores provide instant gratification
  • Celebration icons provide much-needed encouragement

The Mechanics of a Gamification Strategy

Whichever components you choose, one thing which experts additionally vouch for is giving feedback. It could be either in the form of delayed feedback or providing constant feedback such as hints or tips. Note that feedback greatly adds to the learning experience

It is important to remember that your content should be able to carry the gamification elements. Not all types of content can be treated in the same way. In fact, there cannot be a pre-determined gamification strategy. The strategy needs to be altered according to the learner demographics and learning objectives. This will make the learner experiences far more fruitful.

For example, if you plan to provide some learning control to the user, a certain piece of content might demand branching scenarios while another content might be more effective with options to select one type of reward over some other kind. This type of element selection depends on the treatment the content demands. Lastly, it is also a good idea to consider adding eLearning assessments. These are an essential ingredient of a gamified course and help track learner progress.

There are a host of areas where you can consider gamification. It can be helpful for increasing engagement with your product, onboarding employees, and more. There are also different components, including objects, elements, and tools, which enable gamification strategies. As mentioned above, it all depends on the target users. For instance, what strategy may appeal to a marketing professional may not be suitable for a designer.

Whatever the plan may be, your gamification strategy must encourage learners to complete the session. The key to building a gamification strategy is adding the micro-interventions that have an outsized effect, in terms of how well the learning happens.

Want to know how Harbinger can help you gamify your content? Check out our gamification framework.

Know More from the Experts

One of the biggest misconceptions about gamification is that it is an overwhelming project. The truth is it doesn’t have to be. Gamification can work with your existing content. The main idea to consider is to create moments of anticipation and curiosity at the right places. As mentioned earlier, if done right, gamification can be a smart move to increase knowledge retention.

Harbinger recently hosted a Power Hour on ‘What Businesses Need to Know about Gamification in Learning’ with industry experts Paul Schneider, SVP – Business Development, dominKnow Learning Systems; Jeanne Bakker, Founder of Brain Bakery; and Vikrant Nene, General Manager – Capability Development, Harbinger Interactive Learning. This interactive webinar was hosted by Dr. Vikas Joshi, CEO of Harbinger Group.

What businesses need to know about Gamification in Learning

An interesting insight that Jeanne shared during the session was that our brain is like a pattern-finding machine that affects retention. It also works the best when it is curious. What gamification does is it surprises users at regular intervals. And as soon as the brain is surprised, it gets more interested. Hence, even if we can keep the same content, tweak it a bit, or add little things that surprise people, the retention will go up. The trick is to not make it feel like a game.

Harbinger’s award-winning gamification framework allows organizations to rapidly add gamification elements to eLearning in a cost-effective way. Our easy-to-use, fully customizable framework makes it extremely easy for any organization to add a layer of gamification to any type of learning content and quickly develop varied learning experiences.

If you have an idea to discuss, please write to us at Harbinger experts will be happy to help with your organization’s unique eLearning and gamification needs.

Harbinger at Learning Solutions Conference & Expo 2022: Our First-Hand Experience

Finally, the in-person conferences are back! And the timing couldn’t get better with Harbinger attending the Learning Solutions Conference & Expo 2022 after a long hiatus. To give you a sense of this L&D event, it brings professionals together to exchange thought-provoking ideas on new innovations, tools, and services in the industry. This year, Rohan Bhosle, Associate Director – Business Development at Harbinger Group, attended the three-day conference and came back with some great experiences to share.

Harbinger at Learning Solutions Conference & Expo 2022

Here are the excerpts from a quick chat with our L&D expert about his experience attending the Learning Solutions Conference & Expo 2022:

Can you give us a sense of what the Learning Solutions Conference & Expo 2022 was about?

Rohan:The conference was a gathering of learning professionals in the fields of instructional design and eLearning development and different L&D stakeholders including the leadership of various organizations.

The objective of this conference was to bring together experts from the L&D industry as well as learning platforms and custom content service providers under one roof to share their ideas, products, and services which could help in achieving their learning and training development goals. Besides, with the dynamic L&D landscape and the ever-evolving technology, how some of this can be leveraged by different organizations to skill, upskill, and reskill their employees was the talk of the town.

The profiles of the attendees included instructional designers, graphic designers, visual artists, eLearning developers, L&D managers, decision-makers, and other stakeholders. From the vendor side, there were mainly product owners and sales professionals.

How was the atmosphere at the conference? Were there any interesting discussion points?

Rohan:Though the attendees were fewer as compared to previous years as many were attending their first in-person event after the pandemic, it was overall a great experience. The conference was well structured with each attendee given the option to select between green, yellow, and red bands which indicated how comfortable one was with either a handshake, fist bump, or no contact at all.

There were some great sessions and speakers who spoke on various topics like AR and VR, microlearning, gamification, instructional design, development tools, and platforms. I observed that there was a strong focus on incorporating microlearning and converting bigger modules to shorter self-paced eLearning formats and videos.

AR and VR, as always, was a hot topic. However, after talking to a few attendees, I realized it’s a good-to-have type of solution rather than a must-have. Moreover, it is not yet scalable and has very limited use cases. Furthermore, making VR accessible is challenging for the differently-abled audiences as there are various senses in play during this immersive experience.

There was definitely a trend and buzz towards incorporating accessibility in all learning programs. Many organizations want to include eLearning accessibility, but unfortunately, they don’t know how to go about it.

Apart from this, I had conversations around organizations wanting to aggregate different systems like HRIS, LMS, LCMS, content repositories, WordPress sites, and so on under one common place for learners to access.

Interesting discussion points at Learning Solutions Conference & Expo 2022

How were the interactions with the fellow attendees? Any technology or offerings trends that you noticed?

Rohan:I met a mix of professionals from different organizations. A majority of them were solution providers, learning products, and platform companies. I also got an opportunity to meet some of the L&D leaders who are helping enterprises achieve their learning objectives.

The discussions revolved around what new Harbinger is doing in the custom content development and learning technology development space, and nudge learning for reinforcement which was an eye-opener for many, and people did see a need and use cases for that.

There is a strong push for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI). It is a key focus of enterprises now, and they are in different stages of implementing it. We spoke about how it could be incorporated into their learning modules and how Harbinger can help give a facelift to courses by making them accessible and DEI-friendly.

In one of my discussions with a participant, we touched upon the whole learner-centric and learner-driven ecosystem where they rely a lot on different content sources like YouTube, Udemy, and Coursera as well as some specific modules developed for them in-house. There was also a buzz around enabling learning in the flow of work, making sure content can be accessed not only from the LMS but from tools like MS Teams, Slack, and so on.

With things getting back to normal, there were ideas shared around adopting a more blended way, with a mix of classroom, VILT, and self-paced eLearning.

Top 5 Things Attendees Were Expecting at The Conference

  1. How and why to implement accessibility
  2. Enable learning in the flow of work by integrating different platforms
  3. Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equity
  4. Metaverse (seemed more like a buzz)
  5. Learning about state-of-the-art authoring tools and learning technologies

How did the conference add value to you as an L&D professional?

Rohan:I attended an in-person conference for the first time after the pandemic. So, meeting exhibitors, attendees, and participants in person was a wonderful treat. We spent some good time over lunch and coffee sessions, discussing the outlook of the L&D industry as well as what they are currently witnessing.

This time, at the conference, there were a lot of learning platform companies who had their booths, trying to solve different challenges. Every individual whom I spoke with had different perspectives of where we are headed with a boost of technology in learning.

For me, I got a chance to learn a lot about new platforms, solutions, and pain points of different organizations. It was great to learn from different content creation and delivery platforms out there. I also got to dive deep into a few known challenges like learner retention and engagement and how organizations are using more game-based or gamification-based learning to resolve them.

Attending the Learning Solutions Conference & Expo was a great experience and Harbinger looks forward to connecting with L&D stakeholders for their various eLearning needs. For any questions on how Harbinger can help with gamification, eLearning accessibility, and learning technology development, do write to us at

Content Modernization: A ‘Must Have’ Transformational Strategy

It is the time of the year, when L&D practitioners take a stock of the months gone by and turn towards strategizing for the critical focus areas of the organization. This primarily includes planning the budget for different tools and systems and utilizing the budget effectively to gain maximum returns on the investments made. However, at times, what tends to get overlooked is the legacy content stuck in old technology and systems. Content modernization – the answer to tap existing learning materials and align those with the new-age learners’ needs – is the strategy L&D stakeholders need to actively consider.

This is not about “repackaging content” but is in fact, a transformational strategy to deliver business results by creating new and unique experiences for the learners. Modernization makes content more accessible for the learners and presents it in a format which learners would love to go through. Simply put, modernization is the key to improve content usage and adoption.

To make it easier for organizations to understand the several aspects of modernization, Brandon Hall Group, the leading HCM research and analyst firm, recently launched an eBook titled, ‘Why Modernize Learning Content? Things You Need to Know’ in partnership with Harbinger Interactive Learning. By leveraging Brandon Hall’s research-based analysis and Harbinger’s extensive experience in implementing content modernization solutions, this eBook combines industry insights and business intelligence to illustrate the importance of taking a strategic approach followed by a well-designed execution plan for content modernization.

Why Content Modernization Matters

According to Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Benchmarking Study, content accounts for as much as seven figures worth of L&D budget in many large organizations.

These figures emphasize that when it comes to strategizing, it is worth considering what an organization already has and how it can make the most of the content. Typically, organizations have a massive volume of documents in their existing legacy systems. The problem arises when deciding on which ones should be moved, and which should stay. What can be safely archived or deleted? The eBook is unique, in that sense, as it rightly points out the intelligent approach to what can be reused, repurposed, and replaced. It helps organizations identify the criteria to sift through the existing content and achieve their goal of making curated content easily available.

A Smart Framework for Content Migration

Harbinger, a Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice® Preferred Provider, has a “SMART” Framework that organizations can leverage for the modernization of their learning content. It provides a comprehensive solution to cover all the aspects of content modernization, namely, making the content searchable, accessible, responsive, trackable, as well as curating bite-sized learning elements. The expertise that Harbinger brings in is well covered in the eBook. In fact, Harbinger has recently assisted in the modernization of eLearning courses for a catalog learning solutions provider. The client had developed over 500 courses in Articulate Presenter and wished to keep up with the changing technologies, advancement of devices, and the need for a modern learning experience for the learners. Harbinger provided an innovative and rapid course development approach that unified experience across the courses in the catalog.

Harbinger has also helped in the modernization of legacy courses for a digital publishing company. The client had a library of over 500 courses which were developed using legacy tools like Flash and Articulate Presenter. Unfortunately, the end-users faced issues accessing these courses as the latest browsers do not support Flash. Harbinger converted the legacy Flash content to HTML5 XML framework so that the courses were moved to a more modern format.

Modernization: The Need of the Hour

Looking at the requirements of modern-day learners as well as the requirements of the future workplace, organizations need to increasingly focus on modernizing their legacy content. Topped with other factors like technology disruptions and scaling digital transformation, it becomes all the more imperative to look at modernization as a transformational strategy to deliver business results. To achieve this, L&D practitioners need to find an industry partner to optimize technology, to craft unique learning experiences for modern learners. This partner will help in optimizing the content, both in terms of the money spent as well as bringing in the content effectiveness.

If you are considering content modernization to align your strategic business objectives, download a free copy of the eBook to know how the L&D function can maximize its content value.