Difference Between Gamification and Game-based Learning

June 19, 2023


Written by UJJI Team


Learning should be an exciting journey, not a tedious task. What if we could turn education into an adventure where knowledge is gained through play?

Engaging employees in the learning process is crucial for any organisation's success. Traditional methods often fall short of capturing attention and driving meaningful participation. But, gamification and game-based learning, are transforming the landscape of employee development.

As per eLearning Infographics, nearly 80% of learners express that they could enhance their productivity if their university or workplace incorporated more gamification elements into their learning environment. By infusing elements of games into the learning experience, we can captivate learners, enhance retention, and make education an enjoyable quest.

Let's explore the difference between game-based learning and gamification. Also, understand when to use each for the greatest impact.

Understanding Gamification

Gamification is like adding a sprinkle of magic to your business. It involves applying game elements and mechanics to non-gaming contexts. This will make tasks more engaging, fun, and rewarding. By harnessing the power of play, you can boost motivation, drive desired behaviours, and achieve outstanding results.

What is Gamification: Turning Work into Play

Think of gamification as turning work into play. It involves taking elements from games, such as competition, challenges, rewards, and progress tracking, and incorporating them into everyday activities. This creative approach has the potential to transform mundane tasks into exciting adventures, captivating your employees and customers alike.

Key Elements of Gamification: The Building Blocks of Success

To gamify successfully, you need to understand its key elements. Here are three fundamental building blocks:

Goals and Objectives: 

Define what you want to achieve and align them with the desired behaviours or outcomes. By setting goals, you provide a clear target for participants to strive towards.

Progress and Feedback: 

Install mechanisms to track progress and provide feedback. Progress bars, levels, badges, and leaderboards keep participants informed of their advancement and spark healthy competition.

Rewards and Incentives: 

Offer meaningful rewards to recognise and motivate participants. These can include virtual rewards like points or badges or tangible rewards like discounts, promotions, or exclusive access. Choose incentives that resonate with your audience.

Examples of Gamification in Different Contexts: The Proof is in the Play

Gamification isn't limited to one industry or function; its potential is boundless. Here are some examples of how gamification has been implemented in various contexts:

Employee Training and Development:

Companies use gamification to enhance training programs, making learning interactive, immersive, and enjoyable. Leaderboards, quizzes, and challenges keep employees engaged and motivated to get new skills.

Customer Engagement:

Brands leverage gamification to increase customer interaction and loyalty. Loyalty programs, referral incentives, and personalised challenges transform routine tasks, such as shopping or sharing on social media, into playful experiences.

Health and Wellness:

Gamification has made strides in promoting healthy habits. Fitness apps use rewards, progress tracking, and challenges to encourage regular exercise, while health platforms incentivise users to track their progress towards wellness goals.

Exploring Game-based Learning

Picture this: learning that feels less like a chore and more like an exhilarating adventure. That's the magic of Game-based learning! By harnessing the power of games, this innovative approach transforms education into an immersive and engaging experience.

Definition of Game-based Learning:

Game-based learning is an educational method that incorporates elements of gaming to enhance the learning process. It combines interactive challenges, problem-solving scenarios, and rewards to motivate learners, fostering a sense of enjoyment and achievement.

Characteristics of Game-based Learning:

Game-based learning is not your typical textbook-and-lecture setup. Instead, it embraces a range of characteristics that make it a refreshing and effective approach to education. Here are a few key traits:


Learners actively take part in the learning process, making choices and experiencing the consequences, creating an engaging and personalised experience.


Games create immersive environments that captivate learners, enabling them to explore and experiment in a safe and controlled setting.

Feedback and Progression:

Frequent feedback and clear progress markers keep learners motivated, allowing them to track their improvement and strive for continuous growth.


Many game-based learning programs encourage collaboration among learners, fostering teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Advantages of Game-based learning:

Game-based learning isn't just about having fun; it also brings a multitude of benefits to individuals and organisations. Here are some of the advantages that make it a game-changer:

Enhanced Engagement:

Games grab and hold learners' attention, making the learning process enjoyable and memorable. When learners are engaged, knowledge retention soars.

Improved Problem-Solving Skills:

Games present challenges and puzzles that need critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By honing these abilities in a gaming environment, learners can apply them to real-world scenarios.

Increased Motivation:

Game-based learning taps into our natural desire for achievement and progress. The interactive nature of games and the presence of rewards and recognition keep learners motivated and eager to succeed.

Tailored Learning Experience:

Games can adapt to learners' individual needs and pace, providing personalised learning paths. This flexibility allows learners to focus on areas where they need improvement while bypassing already mastered concepts.

Differentiating Gamification and Game-based Learning

Gamification involves applying game elements, such as points, badges, and leaderboards, to non-game contexts, like employee training or customer engagement. Game-based learning is more immersive and uses games as a vehicle for delivering educational content.

Definition and Purpose:

Gamification leverages game elements to enhance user engagement, motivation, and behaviour. It adds an element of fun and competition to various processes, driving desired actions or outcomes. Game-based learning merges learning objectives with interactive games to create engaging and effective learning experiences.

Approach and Design:

When it comes to gamification, it's all about integrating game mechanics into existing systems or processes. For instance, you could introduce a points system for completing tasks, unlocking achievements, or offering rewards. In contrast, Game-based learning involves designing purpose-built games that align with specific learning goals, providing learners with interactive challenges and feedback.

Learning Outcomes:

Gamification can lead to improved learning outcomes by fostering a sense of achievement, encouraging healthy competition, and increasing learner participation. Game-based learning takes it a step further, delivering immersive experiences that promote active learning, problem-solving skills, and knowledge retention through hands-on gameplay.

Engagement and Motivation:

Gamification taps into our innate desire for achievement, recognition, and rewards. Incorporating game elements boosts engagement, motivates employees, and creates a positive and competitive environment. Game-based learning captivates learners through interactive gameplay, unlocking their intrinsic motivation and facilitating deep engagement with the content.

Game-Based Learning Vs Gamification: Do You Know The Difference?

In today's fast-paced business environment, keeping employees motivated and invested in their learning journeys can be challenging. That's where gamification and Game-based learning comes into play. While both techniques leverage elements of games, they differ in their approaches and applications.

Factors to Consider

When weighing your options, a few key factors should be on your radar. First, think about your learning goals. Are you looking to enhance employee skills or boost motivation? Gamification excels in motivating and engaging learners, while Game-based learning focuses more on skill development through immersive experiences.

Next, consider the complexity of the subject matter. Gamification can tackle simple or abstract concepts, making them more relatable and easier to grasp. Conversely, Game-based learning shines when it comes to complex topics that need deeper understanding and practical application.

Don't forget to take into account the demographics of your workforce. Different generations have diverse preferences, and understanding your audience will help you tailor the right approach. Gamification tends to resonate well with younger generations, while game-based learning can bridge the gap across age groups.

Lastly, assess the resources available to you. Gamification often leverages existing systems, such as learning management platforms, while game-based learning may need more extensive development and investment.

When to Use Gamification

Gamification excels in scenarios where immediate engagement and motivation are desired. It is an effective tool when you need to reinforce knowledge, encourage healthy competition, or drive behavioural changes. For example, sales teams can enjoy gamified training modules that simulate real-world scenarios, allowing them to practice and refine their skills in a risk-free environment.

When to Use Game-based Learning

Game-based learning shines when you need to immerse employees in complex concepts or skills. It provides an opportunity to explore, experiment, and experience the consequences of their decisions. Game-based learning is particularly effective for technical training, problem-solving, and critical thinking development. For instance, software developers can learn new programming languages through interactive game experiences that challenge their problem-solving abilities.


In the pursuit of improved employee engagement and effective learning, gamification and game-based learning offer valuable solutions. Understanding the factors that influence their selection can help organisations make informed decisions. Gamification provides quick bursts of motivation and reinforcement, while game-based learning offers deep immersion and understanding.

Remember, when it comes to engaging your employees in the learning process, a little gamification or game-based learning can go a long way! If you're looking to transform your business with a touch of fun and engagement, then try gamification and game-based learning with UJJI.

UJJI is not just about playing games; it's about learning real-world skills. The platform offers a wide range of courses and modules tailored to your specific needs. From leadership development to sales techniques, project management to customer service, UJJI has you covered. You'll get knowledge and skills that are applicable to your business, giving you a competitive edge.

Whether you're a seasoned executive or a fresh-faced startup founder in the UK, you'll find it a breeze to navigate and make the most of the platform's features. 


What is the difference between gamification and game-based learning?

Gamification uses game elements in non-gaming contexts to enhance engagement, while game-based learning involves using actual games as an instructional tool.

How do gamification and game-based learning differ in objectives?

Gamification aims to motivate and incentivise desired behaviours, while game-based learning focuses on delivering educational content through interactive gameplay experiences.

Can you provide examples of gamification and game-based learning?

Gamification examples include using points, badges, and leaderboards in a learning platform, while game-based learning examples involve using educational video games or simulations for teaching specific concepts.

Are gamification and game-based learning equally effective?

Both approaches can be effective, but their effectiveness depends on various factors, such as the learning objectives, target audience, and the design and implementation of the gamified or game-based learning experience.

Can gamification and game-based learning be combined?

Yes, gamification and game-based learning can be combined to create a more engaging and effective learning experience. Gamification elements can be incorporated into game-based learning to provide extra incentives and rewards for learners.

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