Gamifying learning: From boring to fun

Everybody, no matter how young or old, loves to play a game. Simply because it’s fun. A good game inspires people to do their best. Either because they want to score as many points as they can. Or because they want to save a damsel in distress. Rabobank uses ideas from the gaming industry to get people more engaged in the process and to make administrative tasks more fun. Submitting documents for a mortgage is a good example of such an activity.

Applying ideas from the gaming industry to the world of banking

Using ideas from game designers outside the world of gaming. It’s called gamification – seeing things from a different angle and viewing topics from the perspective of a game designer. What does a game designer do to make sure players stay motivated to keep playing the game, regardless of how complex the situation is? It’s not unusual for gamers to spend hours a week trying to get to the next level.

Fun search for the best mortgage

Research has shown that incorporating elements of gaming into business processes creates greater motivation, engagement and enjoyment. That’s why Rabobank began looking for possibilities for applying the gamification concept to the field of banking. One of the resulting concepts is the online Rabobank Mortgage File. Clients in the Netherlands who want to apply for a mortgage with Rabobank have to take in a great deal of information and find, complete and upload a lot of documents. Let’s be honest, it’s a lot of hassle and a tedious and boring task. So how can you make a process like this more fun? The bank decided to divide all the steps the client has to go through into a number of sub-topics, such as ‘income’, ‘mortgage type’ and ‘interest’. Each segment was given its own icon. So as soon as the client completes one segment, a ‘tick’ appears beside it and the next icon is activated.

Willem Oudijk of Rabobank Retail and Private Banking explains: ‘While the Rabobank Mortgage File isn’t a game, it does make the search for a suitable mortgage a lot easier and more fun. We made grateful use of principles from the gaming industry in the development of the Rabobank Mortgage File, such as making complex matters easy, rewarding clients when they reach a next level and opening up new possibilities during the process. The Rabobank Mortgage File lets clients quickly see the approximate amount they can borrow and how much the related mortgage payments will be. So clients are in control of the process at each “level” and this motivates them to keep moving forward with the process. And there is a financial reward to top it off. Because if clients successfully read, complete and submit all the information, they get a 450 euro discount on the advisory fees.’

‘We give the user a goal and a sense of progress’

Keeping up on the latest with IQuest

The Rabobank Mortgage File is one of the many new developments through which Rabobank is raising its mortgage-related services to a higher level. In order to help employees keep up with these developments, Rabobank devised a gamification solution called IQuest. Oudijk: ‘IQuest is an app that presents questions about mortgage services and developments in the housing market. Answering these questions helps our bank’s employees to provide their clients with better service. By answering as many questions correctly as they can, they can use these points to build and furnish virtual houses: so the more points, the bigger and more luxurious the house. The participants can help each other, compare scores and play against each other. The questions are regularly refreshed and adjusted according to the latest rules and agreements. So new challenges are added every week.’

Accessibility, incentive and flow

Both the Rabobank Mortgage File and IQuest users are enthusiastic about these new apps. Gaining knowledge in this way makes learning more fun and efficient. This is why Rabobank has decided to continue to apply the gamification concept to the development of new products and services. 

Maarten Korz, an Innovation Specialist at Rabobank IT, explains that the bank follows four design principles: ‘We start by giving the user a goal and a sense of progress. With every well-designed game, the user always knows what the final goal is, the stage of the game that has been reached and what has to be done to move to the next level. And we give feedback every step of the way. This enables players to become familiar with the system quickly and to modify their playing method and improve their skills. It is also important that we know what motivates and demotivates players. We employ this information as the guiding principle for the design. This is actually one of the most difficult aspects of the design process. It takes time and effort to find out what motivates people and to discover what players see as obstacles and incentives en route to achieving their goal. And, last but not least, we create the conditions that let players get into a flow. Flow is the moment when a player forgets about the outside world and is totally absorbed in the game. Game designers design their games in such a way that players continually have the right balance between their skills and the challenges ahead of them.’

Here to stay

Gamification is part of a broader movement within Rabobank that places a client’s motivation at the heart of the process of designing new products and services. Korz: ‘That’s why we want to collaborate more with people from the gaming industry in the future in order to inspire and learn from each other. The aim of the collaboration is not to produce a game as the result, but rather to follow a creative thought process with the objective of motivating clients and employees.’

Game generation

70 percent of young people play a game from time to time. 80 percent of them expect their workplace to be ‘social’ and ‘fun’. Some of them have 10,000 or more hours of gaming experience before they start working.