Gamification 1: Story Mode

This is the first post in a new Gamification + Excel Training series, where we’ll talk about how gamification is used to motivate students to learn Excel. What is gamification? In summary, it is the use of game design and mechanics to help people achieve their objectives. It is applied in many areas today, from health and fitness, to education, to airlines and retail (think of the loyalty and reward programs). Common elements are points, rewards, competition, levels, and progress tracking. These help people feel a sense of accomplishment and forward progress. In this first post in the series, we’ll talk about one of the elements used in our training pass: Story Mode.

Story Mode? Yes, it is super cool… check this out. If you are familiar with modern video games, you’ll know some games offer multiple ways of playing. For example, a game may offer “free play” mode, which allows the gamer to navigate the game freely and play various missions as desired. Some games offer “story mode” (or “campaign mode”) which typically provides a plot line that takes the user through a linear progression of levels.

My son and I love video games, and when we play together we make a great team and have a lot of fun. So, one day I got to thinking about video games and my Excel training. I realized that my courses already offer the equivalent of “free play” mode where students can navigate to lessons as desired. But, what about the equivalent of story mode? Could I offer that as a way to encourage and motivate students to work through the lessons? Would it provide a fun way to apply what they just learned? Yes! So … I created Story Mode.

Story Mode is a fictional plot line that connects the training segments. In each segment, you’ll watch a Story Mode video (the equivalent of a cut scene in a game), download an Excel file, and use your new skills to analyze it. You’ll enter your results to help Campus Security with their investigation. Investigation? Yes … here is the first Story Mode video in our Campus Pass (training pass):

So, after watching the Story Mode video, you’d download the corresponding Excel file and use your Excel skills to analyze it.

If you’d like to get an idea of what that might look like, feel free to download the example file below:

Inside, you’ll find instructions from “Campus Security” and the information they are seeking.

If you’d like to double-check your results, feel free to enter them into this form:

Well, that is an idea of Story Mode! If you’d like to view a walkthrough video that demonstrates one possible approach to the Story Mode Example, I’ve include the video below.

Solution Video

Here is a walkthrough of the example if you are interested in checking it out:


Story Mode is one of the gamification elements available in our Campus Pass subscription.

More info about our Campus Pass here:

I think our gamification strategy really makes learning Excel fun … because it is more like a game!

If you’ve experienced other gamification strategies, please share by posting a comment below … thanks!



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Jeff Lenning

I love sharing the things I've learned about Excel, and I built Excel University to help me do that. My motto is: Learn Excel. Work Faster.

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  1. sandeep on January 7, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    Great idea!

  2. Jeff on January 7, 2020 at 11:11 pm


  3. Zdenek Moravec on January 8, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Very original! Looking for a next game with more difficulty.

    • Jeff Lenning on January 8, 2020 at 9:42 am

      Thank you 🙂

  4. Michael Hayes on January 8, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Great idea, Jeff. My wife and I created an escape room idea in Excel. The students need to solve Accounting scenarios to receive the reward. There are 8 different screens they navigate through. By solving the first they go to the second. The students loved the escape room. it is a great way to learn.

    • Jeff Lenning on January 8, 2020 at 10:05 am

      That sounds incredibly awesome, and what a wonderful use of gamification!!

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