Gamification and Game-Based Learning: What’s the Difference?

Gamification and game-based learning can increase learner engagement and training success, but there are key differences between the two that need to be understood to ensure that you adopt the appropriate strategy for your training.

Game-based learning can be defined as the integration of gaming into learning experiences to increase engagement and motivation.

Gamification is the act of adding game elements to a non-game situation, with the potential to turn routine, mundane tasks into refreshing, motivating experiences.


Basics of Gamification & Game-Based Learning

Gamification is the process of applying game based elements or mechanics to existing learning platforms or content to increase the engagement, motivation and interest of the learner. The game mechanics can be applied in the form of achievements, rewards or recognition, awarding badges on completion of assessments, and more. These elements increase learning ability through increasing persistence, goal orientation, learning by repetition, and through collaboration with peers. Gamification can make the learning experience more motivating and engaging for the learner but be careful when you are designing elements of gamification; intrinsic motivation is the key to motivation and more often than not a badge or an award only motivates extrinsically and therefore is short lived.

Game-based learning is the integration of a fully-fledged game or simulation to achieve specific learning objectives through the path that the game lays out. Often an immersive experience, it allows learners to think logically, plan strategically, and move ahead towards the goal. The learning content is integrated within the context of the game, and retention of the learning material is also higher due to the entertaining nature of the game.


While game-based learning does use many of the gamification strategies such as awards, level ups, etc, gamification itself cannot be equated to game-based learning. Recognising the different elements and tools used for both gamification and game-based learning will differentiate the two strategies and assist in choosing which to use.

Gamification involves:

  • Scoring mechanism/badges/awards
  • Levels
  • Leaderboards/Quests
  • etc

Game-based learning involves:

  • Rules of the game
  • Storyline
  • Avatars
  • Levels
  • Leaderboards/Quests
  • Simulations
  • etc

Which one should I use?

Game-based learning requires a lot of effort and time because the content must be designed to fit within the game elements, and also must be devised in such a way that the learners are made to learn but simultaneously have fun. So, you need to choose the right game approach for the given content, then consider the programming effort for the learning.

Possible across all custom learning, gamification offers a solution when you want to simply increase the fun element and engagement level of your training. By adding game elements to the course, you can make the learner more participative and involved with the concepts being presented. The learners are kept interested in continuing their learning through being presented with awards, level ups, and so on.The game mechanics and element that will benefit the custom learning course the most should be implemented for optimal success.


While it is evident that gamification and game-based learning are related, they are essentially two separate entities.  However, it is also certain that both are excellent tools for increasing learner engagement and motivation.

Related articles:

bunchball – gamification

edutopia – game based learning

thelearningcounsel – why game based learning?

heacademy – gamification and game based learning

Bespoke Learning Companies in the UK

Details of elearning companies in the UK, each providing bespoke learning, online game based learning, interactive learning, blended learning, and more. Bespoke elearning



iFlourish provide an end-to-end elearning service, starting with consultancy through to design, development, testing and implementation. They can provide elearning, m-elearning, an app, game based learning, learning platforms or a business application, as well as advice and consultancy to achieve your objectives. They offer a one-stop shop for all your needs, including hosting, video and audio.





eOrigen is an elearning company offering high quality digital media production, interactive training videos, video learning, dramatised training scenarios, interactive multimedia modules, plus, many other innovative ideas. They specialise in all aspects of content production including live shoots, aerial and 360, consistently delivering high production values and offering audiences engaging, high impact brand stories, corporate videos, training videos, event videos and promotional videos.

e lerning



Day One Technologies in elearning company based in West Yorkshire provide bespoke learning solutions, are extremely capable with elearning content development, bespoke LMS and more. Their bespoke simulation training creates an ideal environment for interactive learning, onboarding and developing staff in the use of IT systems.


e lerning





Walkgrove is an elearning solutions company based in the UK and Australia, and their core business is the design and development of elearning, bespoke learning and blended learning programmes.

e lerning


They also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf Ready to Go e learning modules, classroom training, workshops and other generic elearning training and interactive learning resources.




Virtual College is a leading provider of e learning, online courses, blended learning and learning management systems (LMS).

e lerning

Virtual College provide a choice of over 350 online e learning courses for compliance and self-development. They have provided bespoke learning and complete design, delivery and progress support training packages in a wide range of sectors including; Apprenticeships Construction, Healthcare, Lean Healthcare Housing, Manufacturing Productivity, Telesolutions, Safeguarding and Social Care.




WillowDNA are a bespoke learning company and providers of custom e learning and blended learning solutions based in Bristol. They offer a cloud based LMS – Pathway – which is now also available pre-loaded with a library of content on popular business topics from SkillPill, and integrates a responsive authoring tool – gomo – within their new Pathway360 package.

e lerning




Titus Learning is an e learning company and official Moodle Partner in the UK , and is a provider of LMS solutions for professional training providers, as well as VLEs (virtual learning environments). Based in West Yorkshire, Titus provide bespoke learning solutions and have a wealth of expertise in developing VLEs.


e lerning



The Learning Rooms delivers e learning courses and blended learning programmes. Their bespoke learning courses deliver high-quality e learning on leading management practice in key areas including performance management, policies and procedures and conflict resolution. They also offer bespoke learning and courses in specialist health and safety areas such as Manual Handling and People Handling.

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GLAD Solutions are a specialist in bespoke learning. Their rapid e learning development allow them to fit around their client’s needs. GLAD have developed personalised e learning, which uses an adaptive model to ensure that each learner using a piece of e learning receives content relevant for their knowledge level.



aNewSpring is an e learning company with a platform that is feature rich but easy to use and offers social and mobile learning, blended learning, bespoke learning solutions, and adaptive learning including the innovative MemoTrainer. aNewSpring is configured to support training by effectively managing content to deliver the optimum blended learning solution. The e learning platform is available internationally.

e lerning



Safety Media supply Health and Safety e learning solutions.  Enterprise e learning from Safety Media includes built for purpose risk management focused LMS as well as the ability to deliver e learning and encourage interactive learning in a classroom type situation using smart technology. Express e learning allows access to a slimmed down version of the risk management LMS as well as full access to the course library. Safety Media are experts in Health & Safety e learning.


e lerning



Brightwave create bespoke learning solutions. They develop elearning solutions that achieve a positive measurable impact, and provide a complete elearning service involving interactive learning, including:  Bespoke learning and blended learning solutions, Live online training, Evaluation and consultancy, Managed elearning services and LMS,  Mobile learning solutions, Business transformation and organisational change.

e lerning



e-Learning Centre by Learning Light offers bespoke learning and a comprehensive range of online courses. The video elearning courses include Leadership and Management, Selling Skills, Communication, Negotiation, Presentation Skills, Health and Safety, Food Hygiene, Health and Social Care, Business Improvement Techniques and Productivity. It also provides a wide range of online language learning courses. Elearning courses are available via a dedicated LMS or with an Enterprise Licence.


e lerning

Visit to learn more.



Webanywhere is a website design and bespoke learning technology company, providing web-based e learning platforms, interactive learning and online game based learning. Webanywhere offer blended learning solutions, open source e learning management systems, e-portfolios, bespoke CMS websites and software integration. They also provide additional services, such as anti-plagiarism tools, as well as website hosting and game based learning.


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Leo Learning can expertly offer game based learning, and provide networking and discussion on multi-device e learning, blended learning solutions, and consultancy in strategic use of technology. Leo offers bespoke learning, multi- learning, interactive learning, mobile learning, rapid learning, blended learning LMS course building, game based learning, social learning, learning resources, translation and localisation content. Leo support a range of e learning platforms; Learning portal, Enterprise LMS, Education VLE, Bespoke, portals, Learning Record Store (LRS), Platform services. Leo are able to create game based learning using gomo learning, articulate storyline to create custom multi device e learning courses.


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Kallidus provide e learning and talent management solutions, as well as products in Learning Management Systems(LMS), Performance Management, Talent & Succession and e learning  Authoring Tools. Kalidus also can provide content & consultancy in talent strategy and learning, and bespoke learning content.


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DeltaNet is an elearning company that designs and develops web based learning, providing blended learning solutions and a range of strategic learning and development services; ready made elearning courses, bespoke elearning, elearning platform KreateIT and compliance tools.


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City & Guilds Kineo is a bespoke learning company that can provide a full range of services including; Consulting and capability building, Blended learning in the form of blended programme design and development, Custom, rapid and mobile elearning development, Course library of Kineo Essentials content, Learning portals and LMS using Totara LMS, Apprenticeships, Qualifications, Accreditation. Kineo provide bespoke elearning programmes, specialising in Management and leadership, Sales and product knowledge, Customer service, Compliance and awareness, Technical and process training, Onboarding/induction and apprenticeships.


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Desq create digital e learning, training and bespoke learning resources, game based learning and online courses, as well as custom-made digital learning and training. Desq are a creative media company providing blended learning solutions, designing and developing interactive solutions to e learning problems, and can design and develop custom-made interactive learning resources and e learning courses. Desq also develop for a range of delivery platforms from SCORM compliant Learning Management Systems to social enterprise software, the web and mobile. Desq specialise in developing game based learning and serious games, digital gameplay with learning, using gaming and simulation mechanisms to stimulate game based learning experiences.

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Tribal develop innovative elearning and interactive learning resources, and provide strategic advice and support, as well as solutions including elearning platforms and portals, high bandwidth multimedia, video content, online tutoring and mentoring support. They also integrate mobile learning technologies into our solutions.

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Higher Level Learning – a learning company in Manchester

Microlearning, another one of those buzzwords?

Essentially, ‘micro learning’ is the basic is providing educational/training material in short segments of typically around 3-5 minutes (or even shorter). This helps learners to focus on the ‘essentials’ of that area of learning , thus improving their ability to retain the knowledge or skill.

Microlearning is becoming more and more frequently used to supplement eLearning courses – and for good reason.

But before jumping headfirst into the microlearning pool, it’s critical that the basics are understood so that you can effectively use it to your advantage, achieving sustained results from the get go.

What makes microlearning effective?

Making sure that the segments of the learning course are divided into smaller chunks is key to effectively delivering information.

For example, rather than an informational video lasting an hour, dividing this into shorter individual videos or combining with other types of content can be more effective.

Learning is most effective when information is bite-sized, focused, and can be absorbed at any time, on any device. Therefore, microlearning must also be efficient and engaging to be effective.


Microlearning allows learners to absorb knowledge more rapidly through a range of formats which are suited to modern technologies. When learners often need to be on the go, bite sized information is more suited to the technology of today.

Another benefit of bite sized learning is that courses are cost effective to develop and to update as needed and allow for variation and customisation.

Also, Microlearning teaches new skills in short and focused segments. This allows businesses to focus on the skills that would most benefit their employees and the organisation as a whole.

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For more elearning information…

How to Measure the Efficiency of Microlearning

Higher Level Learning – a learning company in Manchester

Evaluating Microlearning

The field of evaluation is well established and as a result, there are a number of different approaches and theories, but evaluate microlearning as you would any other learning. In order to develop a practical, non-labour intensive and therefore cost-effective tool for evaluating microlearning, opt for a goal-based approach (see 2. below) whilst making certain assumptions regarding environmental variables.

Evaluation Theories

Robinson (2002) lists the five main approaches developed by different evaluation theorists, below. ‘While the different approaches are all attempting to answer similar questions (about the worth of programmes and elements of them), the emphasis on various aspects (purpose, focus and evaluator’s role) varies, as does the underpinning theory. However, all

share at least one feature: a concern for rigor in the conduct of the evaluation and a concern for reliable and systematic evidence to support any conclusions.’

Approach Emphasis Focusing issues Evaluator’s role Specific information needs
1. Experimental Research design What effects
result from
activities and
can they be
Expert/ scientist Outcome measures.
Learner characteristics.
Variation in treatment.
Other influences on learners.
Availability of a control group.
2. Goal oriented Goals and
What are the
goals and
objectives, and
how can they be measured?
Specific programme
outcome measures.
3. Decision focused
Which decisions
need to be
made and what
information will
be relevant?
support person,
provider of
Stage of programme
Cycle of decision making.
Data gathering and reporting.
4. User-oriented Information
users or clients
Who are the
users and what
information will
be most useful?
Collaborator Personal and
Group information
Programme history.
Intended uses of information.
5. Responsive Personal
Which people
have a stake in
the programme
and what are
their points of
Variation in individual and group perspectives.
Stakeholder concerns and participation in
determining and framing the data.
Programme history.
Variation in measures and sites.

How to measure the efficacy of elearning / learning Part 1

Higher Level Learning – a learning company in Manchester

How to measure the efficacy of microlearning

Whether you’re an elearning designer or microlearning developer or anyone working in the field of learning, measuring the efficacy of microlearning or learning in general is sometimes regarded as a difficult or almost impossible task especially measuring the transfer of skills in the workplace.  Consequently it is rarely attempted or only ‘surface scratched’. We’ve done some work on this at Higher Level Learning and can hopefully provide one method that works and has been tried and tested in the work environment. We call it SeET – Snapshot elearning Effectiveness Tool.

Our criteria for success was:

  • A practical solution that can be used by staff with little experience of evaluation
  • A tool that steps beyond Kirkpatrick level one and measures behavioural changes in the workplace based on completed elearning (or just learning)
  • A solution that can be quickly deployed and easily measured in the workplace
  • A cost-effective solution
  • the tool should not be limited to evaluating elearning and could be adapted for use in other areas

One question before we go any further:

Why measure microlearning or learning at all?

In the current financial climate, it’s more important than ever for elearning and learning programmes to demonstrate their value and the benefits they provide to an organisation. This means creating programmes and initiatives clearly linked to business objectives and having effective tools in place to measure their success (hence the creation of SeET).

Scenario Based Learning

Higher Level Learning – a learning company in Manchester

elearning developers, designers – download your free scenario based learning template (Word format) scenariobasedlearning

Scenario based learning can be used to immerse learners in a work related situation and expose them to a given situation and ask them to apply knowledge relevant to that situation. They can be developed to address single or multiple learning objectives.

  • SBL presents learners with:
    • Issues
    • Challenges
    • Dilemmas
    • Emotional attachment

This type of learning, also known as experiential learning, occurs when we immerse ourselves in a situation in which we are forced to make a decision.

Our Expertise

Persuading subject matter experts to write for scenarios

elearning developers

Working as elearning designers and / or elearning developers, we come across many different types of business who want online learning creating or face to face training, converting to online learning.  From what I’ve seen the message still isn’t getting through that people learn from involvement and decision making and not from reading pages and pages of Content. I saw it yesterday (literally) and I’ll see it tomorrow. So how do we persuade subject matter experts (SMEs) to write differently?

Every training intervention has a reason and it’s usually a problem. Businesses don’t spend money on training unless they have to. E.g. A food manufacturing manager needs to educate staff on food hygiene – otherwise customers will more than likely acquire food poisoning. A NHS manager has to train 500 nurses to use a new type of thermometer – otherwise patients may be ill and go undetected. Everything’s a problem and problems need to be fixed.

So, tell your SME that.  In fact first, ask them what problems will be solved by the training – why are they being asked to write the training Content? Then tell them to write as though they are going to fix the problems.

For example as a food hygiene employee, what problems are likely to emerge? Tell them to write a scenario to fix each potential problem, for example,  a customer has become ill. How can that of been prevented? What should be done to ensure it never happens again? What decisions should be made – what are the right and wrong decisions? Ask them to take the learner through the process but ask them to write the Content as a scenario in a non-linear fashion. To fix the problem, what is the correct route – the right decisions, and what is the incorrect route – the wrong decisions. Ask the to write it like a branch of a tree but ask them never to create more than 3 branches – from experience, after 3 or 4 it becomes too complicated to design and build.

Our Expertise

Start the game design in Storyline

Bespoke eLearning Development

eLearning Developer

Now we have some theory to underpin the game design, it’s time to start the practical game design. As an elearning developer / designer you will have a preferred rapid development tool. Some of the obvious ones being Articulate Storyline 2, Captivate 9, Lectora. All of these have their various advantages and disadvantages. For a good assessment of them all see: I had to choose one to create a game so I went with Storyline 2 for no other reason than, this is the last tool I used to create an elearning course, but I’ll try and keep the instructions as generic as possible. I’ll provide a link to the finished course at the end so you can download it and look at the structure/actions/code etc. I’ll also try and break down the elearning development into salient sections – one post a section. Keep the Octalysis gamification framework at hand to check what you need to think about as you start to develop:

elearning developer
elearning developer