Integrating Game Thinking in eLearning Design

Posted by

The significance of gamification in modern eLearning is a topic that we have looked at earlier in several posts. The focus is now shifting on creating learning experiences that integrate games organically into the eLearning course content rather than a forced inclusion. This is precisely why; some gamified eLearning content works better than others. In today’s blog post, we will learn about ‘Game Thinking’, how it differs from gamification, and the application of game thinking in modern workplace eLearning.

 Game Thinking in eLearning

What is Game Thinking?

Andrzej Marczewski, one of the most reputed names in game thinking and game design has this simple definition for ‘Game Thinking’:

“The use of games and game-like approaches to solve problems and create better experiences.”

It may seem like a rudimentary definition, but one needs to understand how critically it affects the outcome of a learning program and how a well-designed game can make or break the value of an eLearning program. Gamification can be classified as a resultant output of game thinking that leads to the addition of a game / puzzle element within learning content. It is not restricted to just eLearning design and gamification can be used successfully in a regular classroom setup to help students in school learn better.

Thinking like the Learner

Game thinking requires the learning experience designer – both the instructional designer and the graphic designer contributing to the learning content to think in terms of the end-user learner.  It is no longer sufficient to just stitch together a storyboard from reference content given by the customer and then go ahead and animate it in sequence.

ALSO READ :   What We Can Learn From Massively Multiplayer Online Games

Put yourself in the learners’ shoes! What is the outcome of this course or program going to be? How is it going to benefit me (the learners) if the course is completed successfully? Does the course flow logically and coherently with regular spaced intervals and assessments that allow the reinforcement of learning? And most importantly, at the end of the course, do the learners achieve the learning objectives stipulated at the beginning of the course? These are the questions that learning experience designers need to ask themselves when they are designing an eLearning course.

Gamification in eLearning is no longer a fad to just add an interactive element or break the monotony of learning. There is a specific science to integrating games within eLearning content. When the target audience is someone at the C-level of the corporate hierarchy, it becomes even tougher to think like a C-level leader, and develop appropriate gamified learning.

Here’s an incredible graphic, again from Andrzej (Thank you again) that seeks to distinguish between the different off-shoots of Game Thinking. This was originally conceptualized in 2013.

Game Thinking in eLearning

By 2015, Andrzej had published an engaging and highly informative book – “Game Thinking. Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play: Gamification, Game Thinking and Motivational Design”. The book features an updated variant of the graphic and in 2016 this graphic was enhanced further and the author also shared it on his personal blog.

Game thinking in eLearning


Marczewski, A. (2015). Game Thinking. Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play: Gamification, Game Thinking and Motivational Design (1st ed., pp. 15). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

ALSO READ :   Game on, ‘learn’

ISBN-10: 1514745666 ISBN-13: 978-1514745663

The evolution of the two graphics shows the increase in the scope of game thinking in eLearning. As learning switches to the smartphone; and we focus on eLearning apps and the mobile LMS; we also need to come up with innovative embedded games within eLearning. Games that offer a seamless learning experience, irrespective of the device that the learners use to access the learning content. We all love to listen to stories, stories that have a personal connect, stories that have a strong purpose, spread values, and have a powerful message. This is an essential element of modern eLearning design that focuses on story-telling, the personal connect, intelligent game thinking influenced design, and result-driven learning.

At Origin, we take pride in having delivered an excellent selection of gamified learning content to a diverse global clientele. Write to us at and let us help you create successful result-driven gamified eLearning.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *