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The Easy to Apply Formula for Learning Gamification - The Four Freedoms of Play

Did you know that there is actually a formula for how to create an effective eLearning gamification? And the good news is that you don’t need to be an algebra fanatic or maths whiz to apply it!

After some research and learning experiences undertaken here at Belvista Studios we came across the concept of the ‘Four Freedoms of Play’ by Scot Osterweil. Scot possesses great knowledge of the mechanics behind creating effective gaming environments and his teachings are transferable to eLearning solutions (especially eLearning gamification). We would love to share this concept with you in an effort to show you the positive effect it can have on your eLearning solutions.

1. Freedom to Explore

'Freedom to Explore' refers to the user being free to explore and ‘play around’ with the system. This could involve your user testing out different combinations to see what is required of them to win/pass the game or answering a question in different ways to see the different outcomes and responses. Scott explains that in any type of play the user needs the ability to be able to try things out. He goes on to say that some of the greatest moments in sports is when a player tries something ‘out of the ordinary’ or ‘new’, so allow your users the same freedom in game play.

2. Freedom to Fail

Another important component of user play is the 'Freedom to Fail'. Allow your user the opportunity to get it wrong and then give it another try. This freedom is something that is gifted to us as young children. We are not born walking but we keep trying and failing until we finally master it. We are not punished for not getting it on the first go. Failure needs to be present and accepted in user play. If the user can’t cope with failure in the game than it is likely that they will not play at all.

3. Freedom of Identity

'Freedom of Identity' is allowing your user to try on different identities during play. This can involve your user playing with a different name or playing as an animated character (e.g. Superman). It is human nature to express different parts of the personality through different types of identity. Incorporate this in your solution by allowing the user to select a ‘player name’ as well as potentially choosing from a range of character figures.

4. Freedom of Effort

Lastly Scot discusses the 'Freedom of Effort'. This refers to the user play having a balanced combination of intense and relaxed play. Scot describes what it would be like to have someone behind you screaming "play harder! play harder! play harder!" throughout your whole game play, you can imagine it wouldn’t be pleasant for long. If you take away the user’s freedom to adjust their rate of effort throughout the game (meaning, it’s really easy or really difficult the whole time) than the game will begin to lose its pleasure. 

So if you are thinking of implementing an eLearning gamification for your organisation, have a go at incorporating the ‘Four Freedoms of Play’. Here at Belvista Studios we are passionate about continuously developing our eLearning solutions through innovation and continuous learning. We hope this blog inspires you and adds value to your craft. Please share this with anyone you believe it could add value to so that you can help us on our mission to improve eLearning training solutions globally!

Thank you for your valuable teachings Scot Osterwiel! 

A little bit about the author...

"I am Hannah and I am passionate about how we can create effective and fun learning experiences. I believe that if you create enjoyment and social connection through learning, learning outcomes can sky rocket! The world is changing and becoming more and more digital by the day. We need to harness this and see what's possible!".


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