8 Common Gamification Mistakes To Avoid
Instructional Design

8 Common Gamification Mistakes To Avoid

Unfortunately, gamification isn’t as simple as throwing in some badges and hoping for the best. In this article, I’ll share 8 gamification mistakes to avoid when developing gamified eLearning experiences.

How To Avoid 8 Common Gamification Mistakes

Effective gamification requires careful research and clear learning objectives. Engagement and entertainment are just part of the equation. But how do you strike a balance between having fun and imparting facts?

The best way to achieve the desired outcomes is to avoid the pitfalls and plan ahead. Here are 8 common gamification mistakes to steer clear of.

1. Prioritizing Rewards Over Results

Rewards are not the centerpiece of your gamification strategy. They are merely there to help your online learners achieve the desired outcome. One of the most common gamification mistakes is to put rewards above results.

The learning objectives are the heart of your eLearning course. eLearning badges and points are simply ways to motivate your online learners and improve their morale. For this reason, you need to start with clear learning objectives and then determine how game mechanics fit into the picture. Not the other way around.

Meet with your eLearning team to identify areas for improvement in your current gamification strategy. In addition, evaluate your LMS data and eLearning feedback to figure out how to fit gamification into your eLearning course design.

2. Complicated Game Mechanics

Since the primary purpose of gamification is to achieve the desired outcomes, game mechanics should be simple and straightforward. You don’t want to complicate matters with point systems that are hard to comprehend or leaderboards that involve a complex set of rules and criteria.

Keep it as basic as possible so that online learners know how to earn the rewards and why they’re important, such as how each eLearning badge ties into a real-world benefit or application.

3. Putting eLearning Navigation Design On The Back Burner

Online learners should be able to navigate the eLearning course with ease, even with the game mechanics thrown into the mix. For instance, they must be free to progress to the next level or participate in each eLearning activity without cluttered pages and misplaced buttons hindering their eLearning experience.

eLearning navigation must be one of your top priorities if you want to engage online learners and enhance immersion. Furthermore, you should provide them with clear online instructions on how to earn eLearning badges or advance through the levels. For instance, how to use the arrow buttons to navigate the eLearning course or access badge-worthy eLearning activities via hyperlinks.

4. Missing Out On Social Learning Opportunities

Effective gamification doesn’t happen in a bubble. In fact, you can integrate social learning tools to enrich the eLearning experience and facilitate peer-based feedback.

For example, invite online learners to join the social media group that you’ve created for the eLearning course. This allows them to chat about their progress, show off their accomplishments, and share relevant resources, such as online training tutorials or videos that they’ve used to build their skills and earn more points.

5. Lack Of Clear Criteria

This gamification mistake is two-fold. The first error is not defining your criteria before you develop the gamified eLearning course. For instance, you are unable to specify how online learners can earn specific rewards and which eLearning activities warrant these achievements.

The second mistake is neglecting to inform online learners of the expectations. Namely, what they are expected to do in order to earn the rewards or progress through the levels. Are they aware of the weight that each eLearning activity carries? Do they know how to accrue enough points to earn their certificates? And how does all of this allow them to achieve their real-world goals and objectives?

8 Common eLearning Gamification Mistakes to Avoid - TalentLMS Blog

6. Sparking Too Much Competition

There’s only so much competition that an online learner can take before they get discouraged or disengage from the eLearning course. Friendly competition can fuel them to reach their potential and perform at their best. But you can’t push the limits too far by making them feel uncomfortable or alienated. For example, leaderboards may not be a good fit for everyone. Thus, online learners should be able to opt out and choose another reward path that’s better suited to their personality and preferences.

The corporate eLearning culture must also be supportive and collaborative. Emphasize the fact that game mechanics are in place to help online learners achieve the desired results, not to create all-out war in the online training environment.

7. Absence Of Aesthetic Appeal

We know that we mentioned that the learning objectives and goals should be in the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice visual appeal. Your gamified eLearning course needs to grab online learners’ attention and reflect the subject matter. Not to mention, your brand image.

Use a rapid eLearning authoring tool that features eLearning templates to start on a solid foundation. In addition, choose a theme to enhance interactivity. For example, the eLearning course features a game show theme wherein online learners can earn points to advance to the final round. Every image, character, and multimedia element should convey that core theme.

8. Choosing The Wrong Rewards For The Task

We’re back right where we started, as rewards are at the root of another gamification pitfall. Choosing the wrong reward is on par with putting rewards above results. You must select game mechanics that align with the desired behaviors or learning objectives. For example, online learners are rewarded with an eLearning badge each time they complete an eLearning activity that displays their task proficiency or demonstrate that they’ve developed crucial skill sets.

The reward must point them in the right direction and offer the motivational boost they need. More involved tasks may call for grander rewards, such as online training certifications that they can proudly display.


These gamification mistakes can put a damper on your online learners’ fun. More importantly, they have the power to diminish the value of your eLearning course and negatively affect eLearning ROI. Avoid the pitfalls and create a winning gamification strategy that suits both the subject matter and online learners’ needs.

Have you decided to gamify your eLearning course but still can’t decide which eLearning badges are best for your online learners? Read the article 8 Criteria For Selecting eLearning Badges For Your Gamified eLearning Course to discover the top criteria for selecting the most appropriate eLearning badges, and make sure you’ve chosen an LMS that can support your gamification strategy, with robust features!

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Christopher Pappas

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