Creating replay value – a lesson from gaming

It’s very fair to say that I can’t add “gaming” to my list of interests or hobbies unless you count the occasional venture into BubbleXplode or Two Dots as a way to pass time at an airport!  What does interest me however is looking for more and varied ways to help make things stickier, particularly when we’re creating learning environments to develop capability.  These need to inspire the adoption of new skills, which are then used repeatedly.

With this in mind, during a visit from my godchildren, I started to think about what glues them to playing the same video game time and again.  The answer: “replay value” or “replayability”.   This is the term used to describe a video game’s potential for continuous play value even though it’s been beaten or completed.  The main factors that influence replay value are the game’s extra characters, secrets or alternate endings – its immersive and engaging experience.

Replay value doesn’t come from the user, it comes from the design of the game itself.  Games that provide lots of roles, lots of paths, lots of possible outcomes have high replay value – people love to play them and sometimes get hooked.  Games with few roles, few paths, few outcomes have low replay value, people play them and then quit.

If you look at the practice routines of those who possess a winning mindset, you’ll find they have high replay value.  They are designed in such a way that you naturally want to do them again, and again, and again.

Bubba Watson who won the US Masters golf tournament with an “impossible” curving shot from the woods, learned to control the ball by hitting a small plastic ball in his yard when he was a boy.  The game young Bubba invented was to see if he could go around his house clockwise, then turn around and do it anticlockwise, bending his shots left and right.  The skill he perfected to make that shot he’s used on numerous occasions and it’s the one that catapulted his golfing status.

Replay value creates willing repeatability.  If that’s a desired outcome for the application of a new skill then incorporating gaming principles into the analogue or digital learning and practice environment can only help to improve your Return on Training Investment (R.O.T.I).  The next time you talk to your learning providers, why not ask them what they’re doing to create replay value – it’s a question we’ll happily answer.

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