Using Game Mechanics and Game Elements in Learning Games (White Paper)


Sharon Boller, creator of Knowledge Guru and co-author of Play to Learn: Everything You Need to Know About Designing Effective Learning Games, has authored a white paper on using game mechanics and game elements in learning games. Through a variety of case studies and real-life examples, the white paper demonstrates how learning game designers can design game mechanics and game elements that support real learning outcomes.

When a game’s mechanics—or set of rules—are too complicated, it detracts from the learning. But if the mechanics are too simple or predictable, players will not find the game fun. And even when the game mechanics are figured out, you’ll still need to choose appropriate game elements (we list 12 common ones) that link to your desired learning outcomes.

Sharon explains all of this and more in the white paper. She also shows that the secret to a good learning game is to play test and iterate, always seeking the right balance with game mechanics and game elements.

Game Mechanics

  • Learn to choose the right game rules for players to follow. (And the right set of rules for the game itself to follow.)
  • See examples of learning games used in corporate and non-profit settings and examine their game mechanics.

Game Elements

  • See an overview of the 12 most common game elements, including competition, collaboration, strategy, chance and more. Most importantly, you’ll learn how each one of these game elements can link to learning… and which learners will respond best to each element.
  • See examples of each game element being used in a real-world learning game… mostly in corporate settings.

Written for Designers, Developers and Managers

If you play a role in designing, developing, or managing the creation of learning solutions and are ready to include games in your learning mix, this white paper for you. Look for a recurring series of “Questions to Ask as a Learning Designer” to challenge yourself, or your design team, to think differently about learning game design.

Download the White Paper

You can download the white paper here.

About the Author:

Sharon BollerSharon Boller is the president of Bottom-Line Performance, Inc, an Indianapolis-based learning design company. She is also the lead designer of Knowledge Guru, a platform of games for training reinforcement.

Sharon founded BLP in 1995 when online learning was a blip on the screen of the T&D industry. Now, there are hundreds of digital learning solutions and games under the company’s belt. Sharon’s primary area of interest is games and the gamification of learning. In addition to her work with Knowledge Guru, she has been the lead designer of numerous other digital and tabletop learning games.

Sharon considers herself very much a learner rather than a teacher, and her presentations are geared toward this. She likes to show her own lessons learned and point to other “gurus” in game design.

Sharon speaks at numerous conferences on the topic of learning game design—including ATD, DevLearn, and Training. She also co-facilitates a learning game design workshop with Dr. Karl Kapp, author of The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. She also co-authored Play to Learn with Dr. Kapp.

Want to learn more about game design? Pick up a copy of Play to Learn: Everything You Need to Know About Designing Effective Learning Games.