What Gamification Means for E-Learning & Voice-Over Localization

4 Dubbing & Voice-Over Text Expansion Killers You Must Avoid
August 9, 2017
5 Voice-Over Localization Terms that Trip Up Newbies (& Experts Too!)
August 23, 2017

Gamification has been a buzzword in the e-Learning industry for a few years. But it’s more than that – the concept is now a critical part of course development, one that drives what new features software companies like Articulate and Adobe roll out. And of course, it affects e-Learning localization and voice-over services – and quite significantly.

This post will look at what gamification means for localized e-Learning & foreign-language audio recording.

[Average read time: 4 minutes]

What is gamification?

Gamification is the application of game elements into other contexts. For e-Learning, it means adding elements like score-keeping, rewards, risk, narrative and characters into a course. The idea is that gamification increases audience engagement, which makes a course more effective – and a few studies suggest that is indeed the case. This infographic has a pretty good recap of them.

The gamification trend is so strong, in fact, that new Storyline and Captivate releases advertise their interactivity upgrades and additional avatars. For example, the following screen shot is of one of the many avatars in the Articulate Storyline characters panel:


Note the multiple poses, the expressions tab, and even the desk/wheelchair – this avatar can be turned into a course character, one who goes on an interactive narrative journey with the audience.

How are e-Learning courses gamified?

There are three common ways. First, course developers will add rewards to learning objectives, like answering quiz questions correctly, sometimes sharing them within a work group to foster competition. Second, they’ll add narrative elements – for example, give a compliance course the structure of a police procedural. Third, they’ll make the course itself more interactive – the characters will speak directly to the audience, aiding or antagonizing them to create a narrative. Likewise, certain elements may require user interactions to function.

A great example is the Lifesaver courses produced by the Resuscitation Council (UK). These interactive videos teach what to do when someone is undergoing cardiac arrest. Viewers make decisions under time limitations, interact with the characters, and even try to save a life – for example, by clicking a mouse to give chest compressions to a heart attack victim. The course’s pitch: “You learn by doing: do it wrong, and see the consequences; do it right, and sense the thrill of saving a life.”

Most gamified courses don’t have this level of pulse-raising interactivity or even budget, but you get the idea – even small changes can raise learner engagement.

How does it affect e-Learning localization?

Gamification affects foreign-language workflows in three main ways.

1. More multimedia components per course.

Traditional courses give users information through a combination of captions, images and voice-over; and then test them on it with a quiz. Gamification adds a few more multimedia elements that require more work to localize. If you add voice talents to your English voiceover sessions for new course characters, you’ll have to do the same for the foreign-language sessions. Likewise, if your course features video scenes, these may require lip-sync dubbing, or re-shooting on a green-screen or set. It may not be a huge amount of extra labor, but it has to be taking into consideration.

2. Personalization.

Gamification requires some personalization, usually having the course narrator or characters address course-takers directly. This affects script translation. For example, in languages that assign gender to common nouns, a second person statement can cause issues. The question “Are you tired?” can be said to any course-taker in English, but in Brazilian Portuguese voice-over you’d say “Você está cansado?” to men and “Você está cansada?” to women. Similarly, personalization that’s acceptable in a US corporate setting may not be a good fit for other cultures. This means that some courses may require more re-work, creative translation, or even full transcreation.

3. More interactivity.

Think of the Lifesaver videos and how they respond to multiple potential user choices. Each one of those responses has to be in the target language, just in case it’s used. This means more work during setup to prepare a workflow and to sort through all of the different multimedia elements. During integration, it means more involved quality assurance reviews as well, to ensure that each potential course outcome is localized properly – and that they all work together seamlessly.

So, how can you prepare?

First, by being aware that gamification affects localization. Second, by taking it into account in course design – small changes during gamification can mean real cost-savings when going into foreign languages. And third, by allowing a little more time for the integration work itself. In the end, all of the complexity that gamification adds to a course can be handled with a detailed workflow – in particular if you hire an expert e-Learning localization vendor like JBI Studios. But as with all multimedia localization, planning ahead and allowing for full workflow timelines can make a real difference to delivering your project on scope, on time and on budget.