5 Reasons Your Brain Loves Games

5 Reasons Your Brain Loves Games

Discover the proven science behind game-based learning

The concept of hands-on learning has been ingrained in educational curriculums for decades. In fact, renowned philosopher and psychologist John Dewey first wrote about the benefits of learning by doing in 1916, recommending that teachers incorporate more hands-on learning experiences in their classrooms.

Today, many educational institutions use hands-on learning experiences to help students gain a practical understanding of necessary skills.

But since the introduction of the internet, a new era of learning by doing has emerged.

Specifically, game-based learning has evolved to be a major component of effective educational training.

What is game-based learning?

It’s a method of teaching that involves using interactive game play as a means of gaining knowledge. To elaborate, it uses competitions, reward systems, and an intriguing storyline to keep students engaged and invested in the learning process.

And the best part? It really works.

In fact, employees typically only remember about 4 percent of what they have learned after six weeks (with traditional learning techniques), but with serious game-based learning, participants retain 40 percent of what they have
learned after six weeks. That’s 10X more knowledge!

So, why exactly does game-based learning work so well? And what proof is there that gamification techniques will improve educational outcomes for your business or organization?

Here Are 5 Reasons Why Our Brains Respond So Well To Games

1. Games Build Confidence

Did you know that a study by the Federation of American Scientists showed that game-based learning improves student confidence by 20 percent?

This could be partly due to the fact that students who use serious gaming apps get to enjoy a low-risk competitive environment. They can see how their peers are performing within the app, and feel motivated to improve their own scores without the pressure that can sometimes come with traditional forms of competition. 

When students feel free to engage in healthy and constructive competition, they engage more and become more invested as their performance improves.

2. Game-Based Learning Improves Retention

You’ve probably heard this statement before. But did you know there is a scientific explanation for why your brain responds so well to the information you learn through games?

Knowledge recall is a function of the hippocampus, or the lower section of your brain. Games actually result in strong hippocampal stimulation (especially when they use problem-based learning), activating this important powerhouse in your mind. 

This is likely the reason why students score 14 percent higher in skills-based knowledge assessments after a gamified e-learning experience.

3. Gamification helps Students Enjoy Learning

Several gamification techniques, such as badges and instant rewards, have been proven to result in the release of serotonin in the brain. 

What does this mean for your business?

It means that by implementing a gamified eLearning experience for your employees will likely result in your employees genuinely having more fun while they learn.

In fact, more than 60 percent of learners say they are motivated by leaderboards and increased friendly competition, increasing their interest and enjoyment levels as they study. Granted, it may depend on the setting but it’s certainly an option to consider.

4. Games Prevent Cognitive Overload

Unfortunately, our brains do not have an unlimited amount of storage space. When we cram our minds full of information, we can reach a limit, and consequently perform worse than before we had studied.

Game-based learning, however, helps to prevent this type of overload by harnessing the concept of “microlearning” and breaking down lessons into bite-sized, completable levels. This format makes the information students are required to learn more concise and digestible.

With the help of repetition and rewards, students complete lessons at a more progressive pace, and feel better about moving along in their studies.

5. Games Provide a Narrative (Which Our Brains Love)

Did you know that the human brain developed to comprehend stories as a means of survival? It’s true. In more primitive days, humans used stories to tell others about poisonous plants, directions, and other pertinent lessons that could improve our likelihood of surviving.

Hundreds of years later, our brains still respond to stories in much the same way. In fact, listening to a story releases oxytocin in our brains – a hormone that strengthens our connection to others, whether they are real or simply characters in a fictional story.

When you communicate your lessons in the context of a story, your students are more likely to remember the materials, and feel more invested in the educational outcomes they are trying to achieve.

Yet another way games appeal to our minds!

At Reach, we combine all of these features in our serious gaming apps. Along with other industry-leading techniques, including:

  • Rich game storytelling capability

  • Different game engines (exploration, building, simulations)

  • In-game resources to enhance story, gate learning, etc.

  • In-game economy and reward systems


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