PokéGONE | A lesson in the attention span of humans

If, like me, you had rather mixed feelings about Pokémon Go but couldn’t escape the buzz that surrounded the game’s release, you may have noticed that buzz is already gone. It has died a sudden and silent death.

The game is still making money, it’s still being played heavily and it’s bolstered Nintendo’s shares by over 25%. So why have we all stopped talking about it so swiftly? There’s a pedagogical lesson about the evolution (or more accurately, devolution) of the human attention span here, and I want to talk about it.

Sustainable success?

There was early doubters about whether this sort of success and engagement with users was sustainable, which is completely understandable. Remember that game Candy Crush Saga? Yeah, we all loved talking about that a couple of years ago too. We’ve seen success and failure in many mobile apps, and most of that comes down to our attention spans as humans. We get bored so easily and now have a smaller attention span than a goldfish (although I do have to question how dramatic a shift from 12 seconds to 8 seconds really is in the grand scheme of things). However one point is markedly clear: we need consistent stimulation to keep us fired up about anything for a prolonged period of time.

So with that in mind, how do we think Nintendo are likely to keep this craze alive? And what could this teach us about keeping our learners stimulated by training to maintain a constant level of interest?So what’s this got to do with corporate training? Well I believe that the behaviour of people outside of our structured learning environments can indicate a lot to us about how they might behave when learning (Tweet this). We know that the expectations and demands of our learners are changing, so when we see them losing interest in something that was such a hot topic just a few short weeks ago, we have to question why. By assessing this behaviour outside of the workplace, we will better understand how we can captivate our learners in the short-term, and more importantly maintain engagement with them in the medium and long term.

So with that in mind, how do we think Nintendo are likely to keep this craze alive? And what could this teach us about keeping our learners stimulated by training to maintain a constant level of interest?

Diversification and multi-channel penetration

Unfortunately things aren’t as straightforward as they used to be. We can no longer pop some e-learning on the old LMS and expect learners to complete it in a timely manner. Much like Nintendo is going to have to with Pokémon Go, you’re going to have to diversify your approach to training if you want to keep learners attached to the idea of learning.

Using multiple channels to reach audiences is critical

To an extent, Nintendo already knew this. They already have an array of social media channels (Twitter already has nearly two million followers) designed to maintain a level of virality to the game. There’s also private, local groups on Facebook, which acts a lot like a forum, where Trainers (the word given to players) can share local tips, motivate each other and boast about their high scoring Pokémon.

There’s an entire website dedicated to Pokémon with tips, advice, information and more, and there’s even been rumours of a Hollywood movie since the launch of the game. They’re already diversifying into new products and doing everything they can to maintain market synergy with the game. Clearly, the team at Nintendo are working hard to reach their existing and new players consistently, in order to maintain that buzz and build a desire to play the game.

Learning in corporate training environments in 2016 is no different. We now have so many more channels at our disposal to reach our learners, which we should all be trying to leverage more. We need to work harder at reaching our staff and connecting with them. Even the role the LMS can play is a critical part in driving engagement with learners; now with modern LMSs we can offer more personalised, specific experiences to learners. We have e-mail which is a hugely undervalued resource and can do an excellent job at campaigning learning and driving buzz.

There’s an entire website dedicated to Pokémon with tips, advice, information and more, and there’s even been rumours of a Hollywood movie since the launch of the game. They’re already diversifying into new products and doing everything they can to maintain market synergy with the game. Clearly, the team at Nintendo are working hard to reach their existing and new players consistently, in order to maintain that buzz and build a desire to play the game.

But the question is, are we utilising these channels enough to extend the reach of our training? If no, why not? What’s holding us back? If we can identify the things that are limiting our ability to reach our audiences across various channels, then perhaps we can start to overcome them and move towards an approach that has proven highly successful outside of training environments.

Competition and gamification = engagementification

The brainy folks at Nintendo will also be taking action within the game itself to drive engagement with their players. Long term I’d expect to see them introduce new characters that players can catch, as well as continuing to dangle the carrot of the “rare” Pokémon – the ones that are impossible to catch but players keep on playing in the hopes that if they play enough, they’ll eventually catch them. Simple, but the desire to acquire these rare Pokémon is very visceral and real to those playing. One guy recently abandoned his car, in traffic, near Central Park in New York when he got wind of rumours of a rare Pokémon in the park. That’s commitment.

There are also some very real gamification elements to the game, which are extremely effective at motivating players both in game play time and driving repeat visits too. Here are some of the key gamification elements:

  • Player experience levels – The more Pokémon you catch, the higher your score. The higher your score, the more access you have to catching higher scoring Pokémon to compete with.
  • Badges – Badges are used to great effect here. Earn more badges and become an expert Trainer, and you can also see which badges you are yet to achieve too, presenting players with clear goals to accomplish.
  • A whole new language – There’s a whole set of new words and jargon within in the game, which makes players feel like they’re part of a group, and that they’re contributing within that group.

 

The list goes on – there really are many complex gamification elements here. But one thing is for sure, that eight second attention span is successfully grasped here, and these parts of the game work well to keep people active and playing for hours.

This is yet again another compelling example of gamification working outside of training environments. We know it works, which is why we as L&D professionals have been working hard to harness the key elements of addictive games and use them within training. But many are struggling to find programmes where it can be used or leveraged properly.

Application of gaming elements in training

Often where L&D is falling down is by trying to shoehorn gamification elements into existing training, when really we should be revising the content and evolving it to work with some gamification elements that make sense for the training. Just adding badges or a leader board won’t work if they’ve been executed without due care and consideration.So how can we introduce these hugely engaging elements of gamification within our training? Firstly, we must understand our audience and what they want/need from their training experience. Using data from your LMS around their behaviour and getting feedback are good places to start. Once you’ve taken the time to understand your audience you then need to identify training programmes that would be enhanced by adding gamification elements, such as sales training or environments when you really need learners to be involved over a longer period of time.

Learning from others is critical

Ultimately, the way that Nintendo are trying to engage their players can show us a lot about some of the approaches we can adopt and adapt to tap into the hearts and minds of our learners. There’s no shame in being inspired by others, and it’s equally important to look way beyond the microscope of the L&D industry for ideas about how to elevate and prolong enthusiasm for training.

If you’re interested in harnessing the compelling components of games within some of your training, Learning Pool has a simple gamification solution for you. Our Articulate Storyline game engine can work with any content or subject matter and bring your training to life. Find out more about how it works and request a free demo below.

 

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