Follow the Action at #ATD2015


For the third straight year, the Bottom-Line Performance team will head to ATD International in support of our Knowledge Guru platform. As usual, our schedule is full of educational sessions and workshops that explore learning science, retention and learning game design. Here’s where we will be in Orlando:

Saturday, May 16th

Play to Learn: Designing Effective Learning Games:
All-day preconference workshop – W103A

BLP President and Knowledge Guru creator Sharon Boller and Dr. Karl Kapp Ed.D lead this popular workshop on learning game design all over the US. Participants learn basic game mechanics and game elements and then spend an afternoon prototyping their own game.

Monday, May 18th – Wednesday, May 20th

Expo Booth 602: Visit us in the expo to see a demo of Knowledge Guru, view some of the custom solutions we create, and pick up a free T-shirt. You’ll also be entered to win a free Knowledge Guru subscription.

Tuesday, May 19th

When Remembering Really Matters: Learning Strategies for Long-Term Retention
1 pm – 2pm, W311GH

Sharon Boller shares the research on remembering, and forgetting, then introduces eight strategies that increase learning and remembering. You’ll see how effective learning strategies helped a hemodialysis manufacturer reduce patient drops from therapy, helped a SaaS company double its sales pipeline for a new product, and decreased employee turnover in a higher education setting.

Serious Games + Learning Science = Win: How to Teach Product Knowledge, Policies, and Procedures
3 pm – 4 pm, W107

Join me as I share research on games and learning science, then put theory into practice with four case studies that show how Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud and a Fortune 500 financial services company have used Knowledge Guru to drive business results.

Knowledge Guru Spring Release Provides More Leaderboards, Expanded Reports, and Easier Login


The Knowledge Guru platform continues to expand its features and functionality using customer feedback as our guide.  The Spring Release is all about usability: the features we have added streamline the user experience, enhance reporting capability, and increase the platform’s versatility.

Universal Login

Now, is the official starting point for all users. Players, game authors and system administrators all use this simply URL, also available by clicking “Log In” from any page on the Knowledge Guru site, to access their games. There is no need to memorize a specific URL, and users see a list of all games assigned to them after logging in. All users simply log in with an email address and a password.

Of course, you can still direct players to a unique game URL to log in for a specific game.


More Leaderboards in Quest

Consistently we’ve heard customers tell us that they LOVE the new Quest game type… except that they miss all the leaderboards they are used to in the original Legend game type. We’ve revamped Quest to include three leaderboards while retaining the “Around Your Area” board. We’ve adjusted this dashboard view of progress to include more player information as well. See the images below:

Resource Links for Individual Questions (Quest Only)

We introduced Performance Challenges in the Quest game type… and the ability to link out to resources as part of the challenges. Now, you can link to resources such as websites or PDFs directly from a specific question. When a player clicks the resource link, a new window will open that shows the resource. Here’s what it looks like:


A Third Customizable Registration Field (both game types)

The customers who are most successful with Knowledge Guru make great use of the platform’s reporting and tracking features. We’ve added a third custom registration field that links to a back-end report. So…if you create a field called SUPERVISOR, you will be able to access a report labeled Supervisor Performance Report from the game author site.


The new All-Star report in the Quest game type that identifies players who have earned three stars on every level of a Quest game, along with their total score.  You can use this report as a means of incentivizing players, perhaps offering recognition to all players who earn three-star status across all levels of the game.

If you opt to include this third field in your games, you will have a report associated with it. This enhancement is in both game types.

The Player Progress Report has been enhanced and now identifies the player’s performance on every question in the game – not just overall performance by objective. This enables a supervisor  to provide pinpoint remediation if needed. This enhancement is in both game types.

See What Success Looks like in our Upcoming Webinar

Serious Games+ Learning Science = Win: How to Teach Product Knowledge, Policies & Procedures
Wednesday, June 10th at 2 pm EDT / 11 am PDT

Want to learn more about Knowledge Guru? We’re hosting a webinar that features case studies from four Knowledge Guru customers who are using the platform to drive business results and win awards.


Game Templates vs Custom Serious Games: How to Decide What Your Employees need

You want to include a serious game in your training… but can you use an inexpensive game template or do you need a more expensive custom game? Here are questions you need to consider as you decide:

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • How much budget do you have?
  • How much time do you have to design and build it?
  • How much skill do you have in game design and instructional design?

The answers to those questions all influence a decision on whether you can use a template to create a game, generate a game from a game engine, or need to do a 100% custom build of a serious game. Let’s take a look:

What are you trying to achieve?

If you simply want a quick “energizer” to break up a long training day, a game template can be a fast, easy, cheap way to quickly put together a game. There are pre-built templates for games modeled on TV classics such as Jeopardy, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, and others.  These let you create a game quickly – but they do not provide any robust tracking for you or provide a high level of feedback. They are light-hearted fun. And fun may be all you are looking for.

If you truly need to build skill – let people practice doing something – then a custom designed game can be a high-value way to help people achieve skills. A well-designed game can give a learner lots of opportunities to practice and give terrific feedback to help guide improvement. It can also be designed to incorporate levels of difficulty so game play can get harder as players become more skilled. Let’s take a look at a high-profile process example where you hope people have some skill: CPR. None of us would want someone to perform CPR on us if that person’s skill had been exclusively built by viewing a set of powerpoints and then playing a Jeopardy game for a quick recall of steps and techniques.


Take a look at this interactive video simulation that truly enables people to practice doing something. It is a robust example of a gamified approach to teaching CPR.  It feels – and acts – a lot like a video game. Note: The CPR simulation uses Flash, so it is not viewable on many phones and tablets. For a tablet version, check out Google Play (Android) or App Store (iPad). Search “lifesaver” to locate the app.)

If you want to change mindsets, then a custom game is also the better option over a game template. A well-designed custom game can bring about an “ah-ha” moment or create a shared “ah-ha” moment that can change an entire conversation or way of thinking about an issue. A Paycheck Away, a custom game we designed, is about breaking down stereotypes related to homelessness and providing a realistic experience of what it means to be homeless. This cannot be achieved via a game template such as Jeopardy, The Game of Life, or Trivial Pursuit.

How much budget/skill/time do you have?

If the answer to all of the above is “very little,” then you may be tempted to grab onto a template – or to design a game in an eLearning authoring tool that mirrors a common game frame (e.g. Clue, Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit). This approach can be absolutely fine if you are focused on completion or if your focus is primarily fun. BUT… it may not get you what you need if you truly need people to build skill or retain knowledge over time. It also may not be robust enough if you need detailed tracking so you can clearly see what people do and do not know after completing the game.

Is there an “in-between” solution?

Yes! Game platforms are emerging to help create hybridized approaches to helping people build knowledge and develop skill. Knowledge Guru’s Quest game type is explicitly designed to support the development of both knowledge and skill. The game’s levels focus on helping players build long-term retention of facts and information related to a topic. The Performance Challenges can be custom created by the instructional designer to craft skill-building experiences.

For demo purposes, we took the interactive CPR video mentioned above and combined it with knowledge questions we built in Quest.  You can register for and play our CPR Guru game here. We used as our source for CPR technique.

The Knowledge Guru’s back-end will help us spot player’s problems with knowledge of the technique. The interactive video will give them instant feedback on how well they can use the technique.  The best part is that we created the game in about a day’s time. The tool itself is based on learning science (spaced repetition). The questions help build and reinforce knowledge. The performance challenges allow for skill practice. Pretty cool!

Three ways learning games (aka serious games) differ from just “games”

ForbiddenIslandLast weekend, I was with friends and I introduced them to the game Forbidden Island. I figured they would enjoy it as much as me. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The game is a cooperative one rather than a competitive one. Players have to work together to locate hidden treasure and fly off the island before it sinks. The focus is on problem solving, strategy, and cooperation as you work together to figure out the best moves for each player to make. To me, the game is a lot of fun to play. To two of my four friends playing, the game was torture. It was “too complicated.” It had “confusing rules.” (The game is designed for players 10 and up so it cannot be THAT complicated, but you DO have to pay attention. The game has won a ton of awards and millions have played it. It’s been play-tested extensively.)

Learning games can be a terrific learning tool. They can also be a major source of shut-down in a target audience. My friends are intelligent people, but they have both told themselves stories about how they view games. That story is, “I don’t like games. I am not good at games.” Or worse, “I only like certain kinds of games…ones that do not require strategy or too much thinking.” In my experience, I run across a lot of learners who are like my friends. A game becomes fraught with risk rather than something fun that engages them.

Here are three things you really need to do when you create a learning game:

1. Make the game’s design and play experience consistent with your learning goals.

One of the decisions we made early on with Knowledge Guru was to make the game very, very easy to learn to play. You do not risk looking “stupid” because you cannot figure out the rules. You answer questions. The strategy is limited to recognizing that feedback screens are your friend. Paying attention to them helps you on subsequent paths or levels in the game. Why did we limit the strategy? Because Guru is designed as a knowledge acquisition or application game – not as a strategy or problem-solving game. Its focus is on getting players to have a pleasurable way to reinforce knowledge or to focus on how knowledge gets used in their jobs.

Competition is used as a game element, but because the game is largely played online, the competition is more abstract. We don’t have Susan trying to thump Peter in the game. We have people focusing on having the highest score or specific achievements they can celebrate. With a Legends game type – the one we recommend for live play experience –  you can also set up competitions to be team-based, which is typically better than pitting one person against another person.

2. Consider the characteristics of YOUR players  – not the general population.

If someone were designing a game for people like ME, they would create a high-strategy game, possibly with role-playing elements. This would NOT be the game designed for my two friends, who are distrustful of games…worried that those games will magnify their perceived intellectual flaws or personal shortcomings. For these gals – or people like them – I needed a game with very few rules, a very narrow focus, and a short playing period. Learning the game needed to take minimal time and energy.

You want to design a game that will appeal to as many members of your target population as you can. Be aware that probably NO game will appeal to every single member of your target learning group. This does not mean the player will learn nothing from playing, but he or she may not “love” the experience.

3. Recognize that set up is crucial.

A lot of novices in the learning game design arena assume that the game takes care of itself. If you say the word “game,” your learners will automatically be excited and ready to play. This is so NOT true. A certain percentage may enthused, but others will be resistant for a variety of reasons. Your set up of the game experience is crucial to successful implementation and maximum  learning from the game. A few things:

  • Clarify how the game play will fit into everything else they need to do in their jobs. A learning game differs from a recreational game in that players are not CHOOSING to play; they are expected to play. They view the game as a job requirement in most instances. The hope is that once they begin playing, they find the experience pleasurable…but they are not going to assume it’s pleasurable just because you use the word “game.”
  • Help players understand how it benefits them; be clear about how it will help them. Examples could include a game’s ability to reduce job stress, make customer interactions easier, make a process quicker/safer/easier to do, etc.
  • Acknowledge people’s efforts and performance. In Guru, we have a variety of leader boards as well as a Standings tab. It is very, very easy and transparent to see how people are doing. As an implementer, you can acknowledge effort via broadcast emails, Intranet banners, closed-circuit TV, a personal VM message, a team meeting, or a variety of other ways. This acknowledgement goes a long way toward incentivizing continued play or emphasizing the value of play.
  • Consider tangible incentives – but keep them small. Handing out large prizes for game play is probably NOT a good idea because those who are lower on the score board quickly become discouraged. However, small incentives for being the first to play on a given day, for the first to hit a specific milestone, or for achieving mastery or a given topic by a specified time point can be useful acknowledgements and incentives.

So, you want to create a learning game?

I’m teaching a game design course online with Karl Kapp that begins next week. There is a lot of interest from instructional designers, teachers, and sundry others in designing learning games. This, of course, is heartening to me since I am a major proponent in the use of games as a learning tool. Part of what we discuss in this course (and every course we do on game design) is the importance of playing and evaluating lots of games as part of learning to become a game designer. For those interested in learning games, in particular, I think it is important to play and study LEARNING games as well as regular, commercial games.

It can be tough to find a diversity of examples when you start hunting for learning games. Apps are easy to find. Games for older students and for adults are really tough to find. Here are a few learning games I can suggest for evaluation purposes. Some are better than others. The games are primarily for adults, but I also included some K-12 games.

One thing I think should immediately leap out to you is that few of these games are a complete learning experience by themselves. Most benefit from being PART of a larger experience without being the sum total of the learning experience:

  • Moneytopia – this is an older game I found several years ago, but still point people to for evaluative purposes. Its target audience is young veterans or military personnel. The goal is to make these people better at managing their money and planning their financial futures. You decide how effective you believe it will be. It definitely mirrors the trend of lots of learning games I see that spend lots of time telling people how to play before they actually get to play.
  • Bezier pen game  – This game is amazing. Its target audience is visual designers who need to learn to use a Bezier pen with online applications. It has NO “tell.” It is 100% learn by doing.  It offers a completely opposite approach to Moneytopia. The tutorial is beautiful. The game goal is simple: create images using the fewest number of nodes possible. Replayability is very high. Feedback is continuous. If you are a non-artist (like me), it’s frustrating but very engaging.
  • Spent – this is technically a game for change, but I can see this game used in a variety of ways. The game is a conversation starter. I doubt that by itself it changes anything, but used as part of an education campaign or a classroom experience, I think it can have quite an impact. Notice that you get into the game immediately and it’s a very quick play. Replayability is high.
  • The Undocumented/Migrant Trail game – This is an educational experience designed for middle-school and high-school students. The goal is to educate students on the  immigration policy controversy. It flips things, though, and casts students in the role of the undocumented immigrant trying to gain access to the U.S. (Be aware you have to select “Migrant Trail” from the navigation menu. The URL does not take you straight to the game.)

Now for a few great apps:

  • Dumb Ways to Die – I LOVED this game! It is a mobile phone game (playable on tablets, too) that was part of a train safety campaign done for Melbourne, Australia. The game is sassy, funny – and not meant to be the sole learning experience. It IS a way to engage the audience and get a few points across in a humorous way (such as do not touch the red button and stand behind the white line). The link I provided goes to App Store. The app is also available for Android devices.
  • Dragon Box – this game supposedly teaches algebra without mentioning algebra at all. I enjoyed the game, but I do not know if I could successfully complete high school algebra again. I think the game would make a fabulous companion tool in an algebra class. I’m less clear it replaces algebra class.
  • Grading Game – This is a personal favorite of mine. It has a simple, but effective, back story, and I love the feedback mechanisms.

Finally… let’s look at what folks are doing using rapid authoring tools. These templates were posted by the Rapid eLearning Blog several months ago. If you looked at some of the other links I listed above before you look at these templates, you will notice a big shift. The game design elements you can use – and the game play experience you can create – is limited when you attempt to use an eLearning authoring tool to produce the game.

Most designers agree that eLearning course authoring tools are not the best tools for creating games, but this is often the only tool eLearning folks have to use. They want to create a game…and the only tool they have is their rapid authoring tool. So…. review these and decide for yourself what you think. They may spark other ideas or they may inspire you to explore a game creation tool such as Construct2, whose output can be embedded INTO an eLearning authoring tool such as Storyline or Lectora.


How Protect-A-Bed Uses Knowledge Guru for Better Product Training

Our customers frequently use Knowledge Guru to train sales reps and other employees on product knowledge. The spaced repetition, feedback loops, and detailed reporting all contribute to a more effective solution when it comes to getting your employees to learn and remember facts about your product.


I recently interviewed Miguel Marrero, the National Training Manager for Protect-A-Bed, about his product training and how he used Knowledge Guru to help “train and motivate” salespeople. Read on to see his comments and insights.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and the work you do at Protect-A-Bed?

My name is Miguel Marrero, and I am the National Training Manager for Protect-A-Bed. Protect-A-Bed is the worldwide leader in mattress protection and innovation. I work with members of our Training & Development Team to develop and distribute our training materials as well as performing presentations and training sessions.

Who are your Knowledge Guru games for?

We have used Knowledge Guru to help our accounts learn the differences in our products and to help train and motivate salespeople to learn more about our products. We have also used it internally to help our Training Team learn about new training techniques and procedures.

How does Knowledge Guru fit into the overall training? What are you using Knowledge Guru to teach?

The Guru is great because it can compliment our existing training. In one case, we expanded our product line for an account and wanted to make sure each salesperson knew the differences in the product range. We designed a Guru game that highlighted the differences and used it as a ‘recap’ to our training sessions.

What results are you seeing from use of Knowledge Guru? Any specific stories to share?

One thing that we really like are the reports. There was a specific question that was getting answered incorrectly more than others. Using that information we were able to tweak our presentations to make sure we highlighted the information that was getting missed. Future results showed that people were more likely to get the question right, so by changing our presentations based on the feedback from the the reports made our presentations more effective.

What have been the keys to successful implementation for you?

The two things that we have discovered will make people want to play a game are the relevance to what they are learning and the ease of use. If the information is of value, we get more people participating – whereas if the ‘players’ feel like it is too simple or too much of a review, we get less ‘buy in’. Additionally, making it easy to sign up (which the Guru does) makes participation much more likely. The fact that people can play from an iPad or Mac or PC or whatever makes it very easy for anyone to participate.

What advice would you give to others on creating their first Guru game?

Use a spreadsheet! When we design games, we put all of the questions together up front (along with all of the answers and images) so we know that we have all the questions we need and that we have asked them the right way. It also makes it fast to cut and paste the info and quickly post the quiz. Also, make use of the feature that lets you add feedback to an incorrect answer. This can be a great opportunity to reinforce the information you want the learners to grasp.

Anything else you’d like to say about Knowledge Guru and your experience using it?

Knowledge Guru is super easy to use and has been a great tool for both internal and external training. We are happy to partner with them to supplement our training methods and tools.

Spaced Repetition Featured in the New York Times


You’ve seen us write articles and publish white papers on the science of remembering for well over a year now. We are big believers in the spacing effect, and using what we know about the brain to enhance what people remember. Doing so has a measurable impact on employee retention from training, among other things.

It seems the New York Times has taken interest in spaced repetition as well. In a weekend editorial titled “How Tests Make Us Smarter,” Dr. Henry Roediger discusses how testing can be used as a valid tool to promote learning. Specifically, testing requires learners to retrieve knowledge from memory. According to Roediger, knowledge is solidified in our working memory when we practice retrieving and using it.

According to, Henry L. Roediger III is a professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis and a co-author of “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.”

Dr. Roediger goes on to mention how “many studies reveal that much of what we learn is quickly forgotten.” Therefore, “a central challenge to learning is finding a way to stem forgetting.” We could not agree more. Our research on the science of remembering (and forgetting) often comes back to the often-cited, and often misunderstood “Forgetting Curve.”

But testing alone does not provide the desired increase in retention. Here’s Roediger’s take. I’ve bolded some key points:

Retrieving knowledge from memory is more beneficial when practice sessions are spaced out so that some forgetting occurs before you try to retrieve again. The added effort required to recall the information makes learning stronger. It also helps when retrieval practice is mixed up — whether you’re practicing hitting different kinds of baseball pitches or solving different solid geometry problems in a random sequence, you are better able later to discriminate what kind of pitch or geometry problem you’re facing and find the correct solution.

While Dr. Roediger’s OpEd is specifically focused on testing students, the key points are applicable to corporate learning as well. In our Primer on Spaced Repetition and Feedback Loops, I connected the challenge of remembering  to the constant effort organization’s expend to deliver information employees need to know for their jobs. Rather than test scores, a great deal more is at stake. Organizations depend on their training to help employees have less accidents, make more sales, provide better customer service and make fewer mistakes.

Just like in the K-12 environment, the most common corporate learning methods are actually the least effective for learning when we take a look at the research. “Click next” eLearning courses, instructor-led sessions and PowerPoint slides are simply not enough to foster long term retention.

For this reason, we consistently integrate spaced repetition and feedback loops into both the custom learning solutions we develop and into the design of our Knowledge Guru game engine. We work with our customers to help them integrate Knowledge Guru games into a larger curriculum to maximize the retention benefits.

And while we carefully built spaced repetition into the design of Knowledge Guru, the research-based principles are available for anyone to take advantage of. As Roediger puts it, “As learners encounter increasingly complex ideas, a regimen of retrieval practice helps them to form more sophisticated mental structures that can be applied later in different circumstances.”

I encourage you to read the full article on Then, have a look at Dr. Karl Kapp’s take on spaced repetition or “retrieval practice.”

Sharon Boller, Karl Kapp to Deliver Live Online Game Design Course


We’ve heard it again and again: instructional designers are clamoring to add game design to their skill sets. Managers are perking up too; they need their teams to develop the skills needed to bring game design “in-house.”

We’re excited to announce a new offering that will introduce instructional designers to the world of game design and gamification. BLP President and Knowledge Guru Chief Product Officer Sharon Boller is partnering with Dr. Karl Kapp to deliver a new, live online course on game design. The course is part of the eLearning Guild’s highly regarded eLearning Guild Academy.

Sharon and Karl have partnered several times before to deliver their popular “Play to Learn” game design workshop to sold out groups around the US. The workshop has been available to attendees at conferences such as ASTD International, DevLearn, Learning Solutions, Online Learning, and others. We also conducted a public session of the workshop at ExactTarget in Indianapolis.

Hundreds of people have been through Sharon and Karl’s workshops… and come away with the knowledge and skills needed to get started in game design. Now, the program has been expanded and optimized for a convenient online format. Learn and practice from your home or office!

The course will be even more enriching for those who attend DevLearn 2014. Sharon and Karl will once again give their “Play to Learn” workshop as a pre-conference certificate program on October 28th. Learn more about the live workshop here. Guild Academy online participants who also attend the live session will benefit from the opportunity to blend face to face instruction and guidance with the online learning experience.

You can read the full course description and enroll here.

Best of all, participants will also receive:

  • A three-month “starter” subscription to our Knowledge Guru game engine
  • Karl Kapp’s book, The Gamification and Learning and Instruction Fieldbook
  • An eWorkbook to help you design games based on solid instructional design and game design principles


About Sharon Boller

Sharon BollerSharon Boller is the president and chief product officer at Bottom-Line Performance, the creator of the Knowledge Guru game engine. She has designed numerous tabletop games, simulations, and online games, and holds an MS degree in instructional system technology from Indiana University.

About Karl Kapp

Karl KappDr. Karl Kapp is the author of several books on gamification, including his most recent, Gamification of Learning and Instructional Fieldbook. He is also a professor at Bloomsburg University’s Department of Instructional Technology in Bloomsburg, PA


How to Make Employee On-boarding Memorable… In a Good Way


New employee on-boarding is hard on both the new hire and the manager. Most companies have a metaphorical onion of jargon, policies, procedures, and culture mores, and it can take weeks or even months for new employees to feel comfortable and be productive.

Large organizations have a dedicated HR department that updates the policies and procedures these employees need to know… and there are probably quite a few of them. Small organizations may not even have an HR department, leaving it to the new employee’s manager to get them everything they need quickly.

Either way, starting a new job often means rapidly acquiring huge amounts of new knowledge and skills. Some of this learning is directly related to job performance, while the rest is based on finding the right information, following the right processes and understanding the “company vernacular.”

Even companies with a well-developed “Corporate University” or fleshed out on-boarding program run into problems when new hires fail to remember what they learned in those introductory courses and sessions. Without proper reinforcement and spacing of key concepts, new employees will quickly forget the flood of new information. Instructor-led sessions and eLearning courses, even when well designed, fall short in driving true retention.

New research has shown that Ebbinghaus’ famous Forgetting Curve, which can approach 90% in lost information, is dependent on prior skills and experience. Learners with a prior framework for the new knowledge may only forget 30% without reinforcement, for example. Since new employees are usually new to the company, they are likely to fall closer to that 90% level of forgetting. When the policies and procedures actually matter, this becomes a huge problem for organizations to solve.

How We Fixed Our On-boarding Program

Our company, Bottom-Line Performance, has experienced nearly 100% growth in the last 2.5 years. We are still a small operation (just under 30 employees), but the growth has been rapid. While managers have traditionally handled the on-boarding and created 30 and 90-day programs for their new employees, our company has struggled to help new employees “learn the lingo” and understand basic processes and procedures. In the past, most folks have learned by piecing information together from various co-workers. They learn the ropes eventually, but the feedback is often “I wish I would have felt more comfortable learning and following the processes and terminology in the first three months.”

Our solution? Use our Knowledge Guru game engine to create a “BLP Guru” game to teach process, procedures and jargon! Employee on-boarding information is well-suited for the spaced repetition-based game engine.

Basics of using Knowledge Guru for on-boarding:

  • Our game covered policies and procedures, jargon and the “BLP Toolbox.” We wove workplace scenarios into all the topics.
  • New hires review the handbook, then play the game with handbook close by. The game reinforces concepts that may have been explained by a manager and also teaches new concepts.
  • The feedback provided for incorrect responses helps employees avoid embedding incorrect information.
  • Achievements, leaderboards and the “See the Standings” page give new hires a sense of connection and camaraderie (plus some needed motivation!)
  • The iterative questions and spaced repetition reinforce key learning objectives we identified as essential for all new hires to know or do.
  • When job titles, tools and policies change, we are easily able to update the game content (or change to a new game entirely) in the admin dashboard.

Scroll through the screenshots below to see some highlights of the BLP Guru Game. You can also request a demo for a complete walkthrough of how to use Knowledge Guru in an employee on-boarding program.


Basic policies and procedures work well within Knowledge Guru games.

Basic policies and procedures work well within Knowledge Guru games.

Images can be combined with relevant questions, such as this "find and locate" question.

Images can be combined with relevant questions, such as this “find and locate” question.

Players learn from their mistakes and receive feedback when they answer questions incorrectly.

Players learn from their mistakes and receive feedback when they answer questions incorrectly.

Rewards and achievements make otherwise dry content motivating.

Rewards and achievements make otherwise dry content motivating.

Players receive badges and topic mastery achievements when they complete on-boarding topics.

Players receive badges and topic mastery achievements when they complete on-boarding topics.

The "See the Standings" page shows where all new hires have progressed in the game. The leaderboards build camaraderie, too.

The “See the Standings” page shows where all new hires have progressed in the game. The leaderboards build camaraderie, too.

When the policies and procedures inevitably change, the game content is easy to update.

When the policies and procedures inevitably change, the game content is easy to update.

The Importance of Aesthetics in Serious Games


First impressions matter in almost every situation – including game play.

Aesthetics are a huge part of the game play experience. If the game doesn’t LOOK appealing, then players won’t want to play even if the game has a great game goal and rules. Conversely, a game that may be “just okay” from a game play perspective can be elevated by strong aesthetics. This fact can be a plus in learning games where content might be a bit dry but a great theme and aesthetics can help create an enjoyable experience.

Compare these two game boards. Which one makes you more curious about playing the game?

FirstProtoypeAPAGameBoard copy


What about these game characters and images? Do they make you curious and want to play? What other information is being shared via the aesthetics in the game? (Answer: Progression, topic, what to do next, theme, overarching mood, etc.)





Aesthetics do several things for you in a game (any game – including serious games).

For example:

  • Set a mood and reinforce a theme or a concept
  • Immerse the player into the game experience and help them suspend reality so they can play the game.
  • Offer cues that can guide performance and communicate a player’s status and progress.
  • Facilitate understanding of game play, making it easier for a player to figure out what to do.

Are you in the position of hiring out game design and development? Terrific! Our team would love to chat with you.

If, however, you are NOT in this position and are instead a team of one, here are some resources for you. If your skill set doesn’t reside in the graphic design arena, my first vote is for you to hire a graphic designer to help you. The hourly rate for a solo freelancer is typically around $75/hour. Ten to 20 hours of a graphic designer’s time can probably get you all the art assets you need for a basic game.

If you have no budget for a graphic designer, here are a couple of other options to check out for digital art assets: — has some nice graphics bundles you can download and use in your digital games. — has cutout people and graphics as well as some “game” templates (they aren’t really games, but are gamified activities.)

You can also check out this site to purchase game components for board games or card games at a reasonable price. Available items include tokens, dice, game boards, cards, chips, money, etc: