Making Learning Fun

What do the following have in common?

A customer walks up to a service counter, peruses the menu board, orders a value meal, makes a payment and receives change. Is he satisfied with his service?

A man in medieval Swansea is hanged and seemingly dies. After he is cut down, he appears to come back to life. Is this a miracle or what actually happened?

A homeowner complains of a leak in a pipe in his basement. Can you properly fix the leak?

Each of the above scenarios is an example of gamification in learning. What is gamification? According to Leaning (2015), gamification is the practice of “using game based mechanics, aesthetics, and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning and solve problems.”

Each of the above examples also uses a different type of gamification. The first is an example of a simulation. The scenario was developed by City & Guilds Kineo (2015) for McDonald’s when they were launching a new till system in the United Kingdom. The game simulates the entire crew-customer interaction from start to finish (.


As you can see in the above screenshot, the simulation shows the customer, other customers in queue, the till, and several status indicators. It offers several features common to games including a score, lifelines, bonuses, and games within the game.

The advantage of a simulation such as this one is that it allows the learner to practice on something approaching the real device before actually trying the real system. This led to real business results. The time for each till service was reduced by 7.9 seconds per customer (City & Guild Kineo, 2015).

According to McDonald’s crew members it also promoted competition among the staff. Each employee tried to beat the scores of his coworkers. This is even more surprising as the tool was not advertised by McDonald’s. According to Mark Reilly, the corporate training manager, the crews found it on their own, played it, shared it, and played it over and over.

The second scenario is an example of a scenario based game. Learners are placed in medieval Wales and are tasked with conducting an investigation to determine the facts around a strange event that has just occurred. The scenario allows the students to learn about medieval culture, while having fun doing so. In this, it is very similar to the old favorite “Oregon Trail” used by countless school children in the United States for the last few decades.


The advantage of a scenario is that it allows the learner to immerse themselves in the situation. Once again, familiar game features such as scores, maps, and in-game prizes are used to promote interest.

This particular tool, developed by Elucidat, utilizes a branching to insure that no two sessions playing the game are the same. It rewards good decisions and disincentives poor decisions. It also includes a progression so learners can track how much progress they are making (Elearning Superstars, 2015).

The last scenario is an example of a virtual reality simulation. In this tool, designed by Train4Tradeskills, craftsmen such as carpenters or plumbers must successfully complete tasks by selecting and using the proper tools for each job.


The virtual reality allows the learner to visualize an actual environment and apply their knowledge to solve a problem (Elearning Superstars, 2015).

These are just three examples of the hundreds of ways gamification can enhance learning, promote learning activity, and keep learners engaged.



City & Guilds Kineo. (2015). McDonald’s till training game case study. Retrieved from:

Elearning Superstars. (2015). Medieval Swansea: city witness use elucidate to develop an interactive elearning game. Retrieved from:

Elearning Superstars. (2015). Train4tradeskills: virtual reality house. Retrieved from:

Leaning, M. (2015). A study of the use of games and gamification to enhance student engagement, experience and achievement on a theory-based course of an undergraduate media degree. Journal Of Media Practice, 16(2), 155-170. doi:10.1080/14682753.2015.1041807.