A quick google of the terms ‘gamification’ and ‘game-based learning’ turns up a surprising lack of clarity about what these terms mean – and, crucially, whether they work.
They’re real buzzwords of the moment, and share the common ground of implementing the mechanics of ‘gaming’ to enhance learning, or encourage changes in behavior. Used in everything from marketing strategy to HR policies, various studieshave shown the benefits of using ‘gamified systems’. IT staff are perhaps closer than most to the technology that’s shaping how game design and game interaction is revolutionizing professional education.
So, what is it, and can these concepts help to cut through some of the current problems with learning new systems and processes for datacenter managers and CIOs?

What’s the difference between gamification and game-based learning? 

‘Gamification is using game-based mechanics, aesthetics, and game-thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems’, wrote Karl Kapp, Lucas Blair, and Rich Mesh in The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook. It takes common elements of competitive gameplay (scoring points, levels, leaderboards, feedback, rewards, and so on) to incentivize behavior changes in non-gaming contexts. For instance, ‘star employee’ schemes encourage staff to go above and beyond through healthy competition.
While gamification applies game mechanics to existing situations, game-based learning goes further. It implements game design, such as characters, storylines, interactive gameplay, and rewards to actively engage learners. It’s becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to the monotony of lectures, training manuals and PowerPoints. Studies actually even suggest that what makes gaming enjoyable is the built-in learning process.

Getting the mix right

Learners don’t want dry elearning, but they also don’t want childish games either. It’s about finding the right mix of technology and techniques to keep the audience engaged and encouraged. Simulations could provide the answer, by creating a virtual world that’s simultaneously recognizable – with all the challenges users already experience – but incorporating gameplay elements to make it both relevant and challenging.
Games and simulations both transport their users to another world where their maximum involvement is required through ‘active responding’, and the user is in control. For years now, game designers have actually been crafting highly motivating educational environments that their players love. As a team, we’ve worked on some of the biggest simulation gaming titles (The Sims, SimCity  and Monopoly: Here and Now Edition) and we saw the huge potential for simulation and game-based learning to confront old, stale ways of learning.
Simulcation Datacenter aims to defeat the decision fatigue many datacenter professionals experience, allowing them to experiment with their product and services decisions in a challenging and fun environment. Contact us to find out more about our groundbreaking approach, or preregister to be among the first to experience Simulcation Datacenter.