Game-Based Learning


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Encore Capital Group (Encore) is a consumer-driven debt purchase company which buys unsecured debt from financial institutions and helps consumers resolve their payment obligations by tailoring solutions to their specific needs. Encore has a call center situated in Gurgaon, India, which employs Account Managers (AMs), a young and dynamic group of people, to call up consumers and engage with them to resolve their obligations.


The Account Managers (AMs) have a challenging job. The consumers they are expected to call haven’t paid their dues for a long time, which means either that they are in a dire financial situation, or that they have no intention of paying the creditor back. Either way, the AM needs to convince the consumer of the benefits of agreeing to a payment plan. These could include:

  • Not having to engage with a collector anymore on the corresponding bill
  • Being able to enjoy a cleaner credit rating

During these calls, the AM needs to be empathetic with the consumer’s situation, as well as effective in moving them towards a payment plan.

AMs also have a host of compliance related regulations to abide by, including the time at which they can call the consumer, who they can speak to, what they can and cannot say, etc.

Added to these challenges is another, cultural one – the AMs are based in India, while the consumers are located in the USA.

The business goal was to improve the audience’s success rate in the consumer calls.

To do so, the AMs must overcome the challenges stated above to persuade the consumer to agree to a payment plan that works for both Encore and the consumer.

Given the criticality of the objective and the fact that the audience had several challenges to overcome, Encore wanted a solution that could:

  • Train AMs on Encore’s unique call handling methodology, and
  • Provide plenty of opportunities to practice making calls in a safe environment

The program had to be effective, as well as engaging and inspiring.


  • Train AMs on Encore’s unique call handling methodology, and
  • Provide plenty of opportunities to practice making calls in a safe environment

The classroom session consists of training handled by facilitators who were previously successful AMs. It also contains plenty of practice activities, group discussions and role-plays.

At the heart of the learning game lie a series of branching scenarios, each representing a conversation with a consumer. These scenarios are wrapped in a story-based game whose narrative is set in medieval India, and contains elements of mystique and fantasy.

The story is that of a young Indian prince named Harsha, who is forced into exile from his own kingdom in a coup that kills both his parents.


Figure 1: Screenshot of the opening screen of the game


Figure 2: Screenshot showing prince Harsha (the protagonist) with his parents


Figure 3: Screenshot showing prince Harsha fleeing from his kingdom

Twenty years later, Harsha returns to reclaim his rightful place on the throne, but to be able to do so, he needs to obtain the support of his neighboring kingdoms.

Each kingdom represents a module, with the first module (titled “LAVR”) being set in the kingdom of Satyapura. Satyapura has five ministers (representing five consumer types) whom Harsha must face and win over. The LAVR module contains a total of 15 scenarios (three per minister or consumer type).

An encounter with a minister involves a flash forward in which Harsha is thrown into a present-day call center, where the scenario takes place.


Figures 4-8: Screenshots showing prince Harsha meeting five ministers, each of whom represent a scenario

At this point, the learner, who until now was an audience in the story, takes over and becomes the player. Their choices in the scenario determine how successful they are in convincing the consumer, which in turn translates into how much support the minister offers to Harsha, in the form of gold, military or tantriks (saints with magical powers).


Figure 9: Screenshot of a scenario in the game

Within the scenario, the learner can see how much gold, military and tantriks they have available. They can use their gold to buy items in a bazaar (an in-game store). When they purchase an item, it gets added to their bag of tricks, and can be used at any time for advantages in the scenario.


Figure 10: Screenshot of the in-game store

The design of the scenarios took the following factors into account:

  • The scenarios are based on Encore’s experience with actual consumer situations, and closely represent real challenges and objections faced by AMs.
  • The incorrect choices are not obviously so, instead they characterize typical mistakes made by the AMs in actual calls.
  • Audio is employed throughout the scenarios. Though, in general, verbatim narration of on-screen text is not good practice, the audience’s primary interaction with the consumer is audio-based, so the scenarios reflect that. This is two-pronged:
    • When the learner makes a choice, they hear a voice speaking that choice out loud. This is for learners to understand not just “what to say”, but also “how to say it”.
    • Then, the consumer’s voice comes across, responding to the learner’s choice. This is to allow the learner to get familiar with listening to the consumer and respond accordingly.

    Accents and cultural contexts were kept in mind in recording these voices. While the AM’s voice was narrated by an Indian artist, the consumers’ voices were done by American voiceover professionals.

  • When the learner makes a choice in the scenario, the only feedback they receive is intrinsic, via the consumer’s response to their choice, thus mimicking a real-life call. All other forms of extrinsic feedback are available only after they complete the scenario.
  • The game goal matches closely with the learning goal.
  • The profile of each minister matches closely with the profile of the consumer. And, higher success in the scenario (with the consumer) leads to higher success with the minister.
  • Learners can decide to meet the ministers (and thereby go through the scenarios) in any sequence, bringing an exploratory feel to the game.
  • Failure in a scenario doesn’t stop the learner from playing, though their gains are reduced. If they fail in the scenario of a minister, they get to play the next scenario for the same minister. A learner can have a total of two failures in a single attempt, beyond which they would have to restart the game. Here is an overview of how the scenarios are setup:

Figure 11: Image showing how the scenarios are structured

  • Any scenarios not visited will be available when (if) the learner clicks the “Earn More” button at the end of the game, thereby allowing all learners the chance to maximize their gains.
  • The more they play, the better they learn. Therefore, though the game has a total of 15 scenarios (enough practice to reach a certain level of mastery), they are not mandatory. That would be disrespecting learners’ intelligence and sense of autonomy. Instead, only five scenarios are made mandatory (one per minister), and an “Earn More” button is placed strategically after the learner visits all five ministers. Clicking this button takes them to the remaining scenarios.

Here are the specifics of the game, at a glance:

Learning Goal: Convince consumers to agree to a payment plan

Game Goal: Persuade ministers to offer support (financial, military or magical)

Core Dynamics: Reasoning, Negotiation

Game Mechanics:

  • The learner needs to gain as much support from each minister as possible (in the form of gold, military or tantriks).
  • These gains cumulatively determine their position on the leaderboard.
  • In addition, they can win badges, which they can use as bragging rights.
  • Learners can use the gold they have won to purchase items in the in-game store, for advantages in the scenario.
  • Learners can technically complete the game by playing just one scenario per minister. However, a better chance of winning the battle (with more gains) and the promise of a higher position of the leaderboard prompt them to visit all scenarios.
  • They receive feedback in multiple ways. Within a scenario, learners must contend with the consumer’s response to their choice (intrinsic). Once they complete each scenario, they get to see:
    • A synopsis, explaining how they did in the scenario
    • A “Review Choices” button, which allows them to review each choice they made in the scenario, along with information on why that choice was good / bad, and what other choice might have led to a better outcome
    • Their gains (what the minister offers in the form of support) as well as badges
    • Their position on the leaderboard

    Game Elements:

    • Story: A strong narrative, the story of prince Harsha and his quest to regain his father’s throne, runs through the game.
    • Aesthetics: A visual theme that is in line with the story and the era in which the game is set engages and motivates learners.
    • Competition: Though learners do not see their gains increasing within a scenario (it was intentionally designed this way, to avoid any distractions during the core gameplay), there is a clear undercurrent of competition, in the form of the leaderboard.
    • Rewards: These are the gains as well as the badges that they can show off to their colleagues.
    • Strategy: Within the scenario, the choices they make should overcome consumers’ objections, and should move them towards a payment plan. An incorrect choice would end the call, and lower their gains.

Figure 12: Screenshot showing badges earned


Figure 13: Screenshot showing the leaderboard


Once a batch (of about 25 learners) completes the classroom training, they play the game together in a typical “war-room” setup. As a result of intentional design, learners get to see the leaderboard only after they complete each scenario (and never while a scenario is in progress).

However, a live scoreboard projected on a big screen in the room indicates to what extent each learner has progressed, and how they are faring, providing a match-like atmosphere and encouraging learners to visit more scenarios.

The reports that the LMS is customized to offer include:

Difficulty Indicator: This shows the stages at which learners make mistakes.


Figure 14: Screenshot showing the ‘Difficulty Indicator’ report on the LMS

Learner Choices: This indicates the exact choices made by each learner in each scenario.


Figure 15: Screenshot showing the ‘Learner Choices’ report

Attempt Status by Learner: This provides a detailed account of the success status of each learner, in each attempt.


Figure 16: Screenshot showing the ‘Attempt Status by Learner’ report

Current Status: This shows the current status of each learner, in terms of how much they’ve progressed in the game, how many scenarios they have completed, and so on. It also shows the total gains made by each learner thus far.


Figure 16: Screenshot showing the ‘Current Status’ report


Here are the tangible benefits observed after the program was launched in July 2017:

  • A total of 840 participants have completed the program till date, among whom, those who performed well in the game have seen their success rate on the job improve by an average of 7%. This was arrived at by studying a sample of about 50 top performers. Of course, further investigation is needed to better understand the correlation between the two datasets.
  • Overall performance of the call center has gone up by 4% since the launch of the program.

Learner feedback and reception to the program have been phenomenal. Here are a couple of comments from participants who completed the game

  • “Making a consumer call is not always a pleasant experience, though I know we’re helping the consumer find financial freedom. However, the game has injected positive energy into how I view these calls in general.”
  • “It was an amazing learning experience. Apart from having fun throughout, I’m more confident to make consumer calls.”


Here is a 4.5-minute demo video, covering the look and feel, and functioning, of the game:


Articulate Storyline, xAPI, JavaScript Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Audacity, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint


  • Won Gold in the LearnX Impact Awards 2018 for “Best Game Design”
  • Won Silver in the LearnX Impact Awards 2018 for “Best Interactive Scenario Design”
  • Won Silver in the LearnX Impact Awards 2018 for “Best eLearning on a Budget”
  • Won Gold in the Brandon Hall Excellence Awards 2018 for “Best Use of Games and Simulations for Learning”
  • Won Bronze in the Brandon Hall Excellence Awards 2018 for “Best Advance in Custom Content”