Tag: gamification


Pokémon™ Gets You Go Go Going!

PokmonMy oldest son (26) has been a huge Nintendo fan his whole life.  He has always loved Pokémon™.  He first traded the cards and then started to play the hand-held games with cartridges, which evolved to playing other gamers online through his Nintendo 3DS, etc.  He’d often be riding the ferry over to work in Seattle battling other gamers from all over the world.

As a learning professional, the external motivation this game provides, which catalyzes the intrinsic motivation of its users is nothing short of staggering.

Last month when the latest evolution, Pokémon Go™ was released, he got super excited and of course started playing immediately.  One night, several weeks ago, he came over to our house and insisted we go down to the Poulsbo waterfront downtown.  He made sure I had the Pokémon Go app loaded on my phone and off we went.

When we parked and started walking to the waterfront, near the marina, the place was bustling with energy and lots of people of all ages.  There were younger children, teenagers, young adults, and middle-aged people all there catching…Pokémon.  The social aspect of this game fascinated me and practically as soon as I turned the app on, Pokémon and Pokéstops, were all over my screen. PokéStops are represented as cubes on the screen.  When you get close enough, the cube converts to a wheel and you can spin the image for items.  Because there are PokéStops there, players can release lures, which attract Pokémon, which explains why so many people are there all the time.  It’s a veritable melting pot of Pokémon and people.

The game is pretty simple, but there are some strategies to use.  There are a couple of ways to organize your collection.  There is one area of the app where you can see your capture Pokémon as well as their Combat Power (CP) points.  This is where you can “power up,” “evolve,” and or “trade-in” extra Pokémon for candy, which is needed for your captured Pokémon to evolve.  The Pokédex is where you can see, which of the 150 Pokémon in the current release of the game, you have captured, and get additional information about them there.  For more information on the game check out the article on Wikipedia.


The object is to capture as many Pokémon as you can for yourself, and one of three teams you join.  You capture Pokémon by throwing Poké Balls at them by swiping the ball and striking their target area.  You can defend gyms, and also hatch eggs, which can only happen, when the Pokémon egg is placed in an incubator, and the Pokémon trainer (player) walks 5 KM.  This is ingenious, I believe.

The fact that you can add new Pokémon to your collection by walking to hatch them and by walking to see them at new Pokéstops or wherever you might be is a great motivational tool.  I like to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps a day.  With my consulting company, I hadn’t typically been walking as much as when I was commuting to Seattle on a regular basis.  So, I decided, I’d walk an hour each day at lunch, but to make it more fun, I’d play Pokémon Go, for the hour I walked.

The results are fascinating (over 70,000 steps in the last seven days).  You can see when I started walking using the Pokémon Go app, I have had no problems getting my 10K steps in.  So it really does make you  go go go!  If you are looking to get walking or running again and you want a different kind of motivator, I challenge you to try this fun game.results

As a learning professional, the external motivation this game provides, which catalyzes the intrinsic motivation of its users is nothing short of staggering.  It makes me wonder… ”How can we as learning professionals use this or something like this to help drive real behavior change in our learning audiences?”  Let me know what ideas you have.

Practicing to fail makes perfect

On-DemaPracticingnd Learning

In my book, On-Demand Learning, I saw an emerging trend of self-service in the world and a need for it to integrate into the way people learn.  The notion is, “I can bank 24 hours a day, I can scan my own groceries, I can pump and pay for my own gas, I can check in at the airport, and so many other things on my own, why can’t I learn when I want to?”   That “on-demand” trend is growing massively as learners get more savvy and the technologies such as mobile are more ubiquitous.

True learning doesn’t happen until you practice and fail in a safe environment, Roger Schank

One of the other key tenets of the book was based on Roger Schank’s book, Virtual Learning.  He states, in essence, you don’t truly learn until you  practice and fail.  This is so true if you think about it.  The old axiom says, “Practice makes perfect,” but to put a finer point on this, learning doesn’t really happen until the failure occurs with it.

Practicing and Failing Makes Perfect

Darin can ride his unicycle still…

That is why at the tender age of 52, I can still ride my unicycle like I did I learned how to ride when I was 10.  When I was first learning, I couldn’t even sit on the seat, without hugging a tree or a wall.  Eventually, with enough failing (or rather falling), I was able to pedal several feet successfully.  Most unicycles are not chain-driven, so you have to pedal non-stop until you get to the point where you can rock back and forth.  Finally, I was able to go long distances and even delivered papers on my route on it.

Watch a gamer

With the advent of web-based, mobile, gamification, and other technologies, learners are equipped perfectly to practice and fail in a safe environment.  This helps drive real learning that sticks.  If you watch people who play video games, at each level in a game, the players work through challenges, and movements, maps, actions, etc.  Soon, they learn from previous actions how to navigate each level and progress.

10,000 hours

Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a field.  Actually, it takes 10,000 hours of practice, failing, honing,  more practice, more failing, more honing, ad infinitum.  Even experts need to continue to practice.

Practical tips

How can you use this information to improve your training offerings?

  • Offer chances for practice and failure
  • Allow learners to repeat the practice and failure cycle as needed until they learn the task or skill
  • Leverage the appropriate technology to enable self-directed learning
  • Show learners their learning path
  • Show learners their progress on the learning path (bars, badges, levels, points, etc.).

We live in an on-demand society.  We live in a technology surround.  We learning when we practice and fail in a safe environment.  If you mash up these three tenets, you can create an extremely sticky learning vehicle.

(c) 2016, Darin Hartley, The Janus Experience, LLC

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