I have been reading a lot on game mechanics lately (in order to integrate some forms of ‘gamification’ into my eLearning projects) and found that to make great games compelling, the player’s experience and expertise needs to change over time and in meaningful ways. Games dole out just the right amount of challenge and learning to keep players engaged and on the edge of their ability. Also, in games when users do not know exactly when to expect a reward, they tend to expect it anytime soon. I also found that the nature of the reward is very important. As we all may know, the goal of rewards is to maximize motivation prior to receiving the reward, as well as happiness after receiving the reward. For those interested, I have created a breakdown of some types of rewards you could implement.
Levels: Standard game mechanic, you can use levels to show progress and gauge learner development.
Prolonged play: The opposite of quick levels, you could reward users by prolonging their game-time to allow for higher scores and measures of success.
Completion: Quick win by providing the learner a feeling of closure by rewarding the completion of a goal/learning outcome.
Points: You could use scores, points or ratings to give learners feedback on their actions and allow comparison with others.
Status/Leaderboards: I read that we constantly assess how interactions either enhance or diminish our standing relative to others and our personal best.
Unlock certain features/elements: This one I like a lot. Exploit learners’ desire to explore by unlocking new features as a reward for specific behavior.
So, as you can see, there is a lot of ways (some easier to integrate than others) we can introduce rewards in eLearning and make our projects more fun and engaging.