Cosmetic Gamification Does Not Motivate Learners

04/11/2024 4:42 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

In an ATD article titled: Beyond Gamification, professor Karl M. Kapp suggested that gamification might not be a solution for building employee engagement. 

“Many gamification efforts focus on cute characters, meaningless point systems, and leaderboards, which only the top 10 people care about,” writes Dr. Kapp. “Unless gamification is part of a larger strategy or a more focused effort, it will not have the success an organization hopes to achieve in terms of employee engagement.”

Jonathan Peters, Ph.D., would agree. He peppered the start of his webinar: “The Four ‘Levels’ of Gamification Implementation in Learning Experiences” with a few game mechanics: the opportunity to collect badges, a chance to win a gamification surveyor certification workshop, and a chance to lose the previous opportunity if you don’t have enough badges.  Then he asked us to think about the experience.  How long would he have been able to motivate us and keep us motivated?

The majority of participants were motivated up until we had earned three badges, which was the threshold for qualifying for the workshop registration. 

If badges and points and leaderboards is all we have when it comes to gamification, he informed us during a Gamification of Learning webinar, “We can expect that we won’t get results over time.  It might make something more interesting, and it feels fun, but what we know from the research is that it doesn’t last over time.”

Badges and points and leaderboards provide a cosmetic level of gamification, Dr. Peters shared. These game mechanics have no impact to the course and are easily ignored once the learners figure out how to game the system.

The higher levels of gamification are:


Helps the learning happen by gamifying an element of learning so people can pass a test.


The game becomes part of the experience.  There is no separation from the material and the gamification elements.


The gamification elements become the “raison d’etre” of learning. 

To reach that immersive level, Dr. Peters shares a 30 point path that incorporates deliberate, purposeful consideration of game mechanics to ensure the resulting product doesn’t feel superficial or meaningless, but rather guides the learners towards achieving a mutual objective.

And of course, they lay out those steps in a game format.

Dr. Peters will walk you through this path during next month’s Gamification Certification workshop.  This program is like no conference or workshop you’ve attended. The Sententia Gamification LIVE Certification is a complete immersion experience designed to leave you creatively inspired and technically masterful.

Learn More About Our Upcoming Workshop:

Gamification Certification: A Learning and Design Adventure Through the Fundamentals of Gamification for Learning

Sponsors and Partners

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software