Game-based Learning

Project Background

One of my internal customers had hired a number of new starters in his client services team with very little customer service experience. Additionally he also had a number of people whom he felt could benefit from some up skilling. He wanted a full course developed internally at low cost. The company had no existing course material on the subject, however they did have some innovative subject matter experts in customer service, so a team was put together to develop an eight week course.

Course Features

The course itself had many features, but for this blog, I am going to be highlighting one in particular; an exercise we created for dealing with difficult customers using game-based learning delivered within the classroom.

Generally, game-based learning is designed to balance a subject matter with gameplay, and the ability of the learner to then apply what they have learnt back to the real world. According to (McGonigal 2011), games have four key ingredients.(McGonigal 2011)

  1. Goal – a game has to have a desired outcome that everyone is working to accomplish.
  2. Rules – in order to achieve the goal there has to be some parameters put into place that eliminate or make it difficult to achieve the goal.
  3. Feedback system – this is a process where the player knows where they are in the system to achieve the goal.
  4. Voluntary participation – basically this means that everyone involved in the game understands the rules, has a clear sense of the goal, and how to receive feedback.


The game itself was based on a popular board game; Cranium. Obviously we made a number of changes from the original game because of copyright, and we wanted to relate the game back to the subject matter of dealing with difficult customers and complaints. The idea of the board game was to work in small groups or pairs, and to get to the centre of the board as quickly as possible.

Players had to complete challenges (game cards) that corresponded to the colour of the speech bubble or lightening bolt. Once the challenge was successfully completed they could roll the dice and move forward. If they landed on a mouth, they had the option to fast track the game by playing on the lightening bolt track.


We had four types of challenges; (1) Puzzle Me, (2) Perform Me, (3) Solve Me, and (4) Make Me.

Complainium Card Examples.PNG

The challenges were based on the content that learners had to complete previously in an eLearn and then in an earlier part of the actual classroom session. The game allowed learners to reinforce their learning, while in some challenges simulate what they would face in the real world.

What was my role?

  • My role was as the researcher and designer for this project. This project was created in collaboration with a colleague, Marisna Roodt.
  • I researched the content and need for this project
  • I identified the audience and context for this project in collaboration with my customer
  • I wrote the learning objectives 
  • I co-designed the rules and process for the game
  • I co-designed the structure and layout of the board game
  • I co-designed and developed the challenge cards for the game



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