Illustration for Let's play at LXDCON'24 with a group of people playing games and learning.

Lessons learned from LXDCON’24

July 11, 2024 – Niels Floor |

The ninth annual learning experience design conference LXDCON’24 took place June 11 to 14. With this year’s theme “Let’s play!” we had fun exploring how play, gamification, and game design can boost learning experiences. Here are some of the lessons that I learned!

LXD and game design are family

Learning experience design (LXD) is often compared to fields like user experience design, instructional design and interaction design. For some reason, game design is often overlooked as a foundation of LXD. Yet LXD and game design are closely related, more than you might expect.

Both LXD and game design:

  • Are creative disciplines.
  • Have a similar design process.
  • Use design skills like ideation, sketching, visual design, interface design, prototyping, and user testing.
  • Have a goal-oriented approach.
  • Care about the quality of the experience.
  • Offer the right level of challenge.
  • Use storytelling and make you the star of the story.

I don’t see game design as an addition to LXD, I see them as closely related. Every design that I create has an element of play in it. Anywhere from a full-blown digital game to a small playful activity. Having game design as part of your skill set is essential for LXD.

LXD bridges the gap

Gaming and L&D are two different worlds. LXD bridges the gap between game designers and learning professionals. It is rooted in design disciplines like user experience design, interaction design, and game design while incorporating elements from the world of learning like cognitive psychology, experiential learning, and neuroscience.

In his presentation, Eddy Klappe from design studio IJsfontein showcased ROOM, a mental wellbeing app for students. It combines great visual design, game design, user experience design and learning science. For example, it uses science-based exercises and habit forming techniques to teach essential stress regulation skills to students. All of this is packaged in a visually stunning design that is user friendly and serves a great purpose. This is learning experience design in action!

Play is serious fun

Here’s a secret: people love to play! Using play in the design of a learning experience can make a big difference, especially with serious topics. Beybin Elvin Tunç’s contribution “Gamification against discrimination” explained how play can make people more empathic and understanding towards others. Gamification is often used to dress up a boring design, in Beybin’s case, it is used to create meaningful interaction.

A playful attitude can have serious impact. This is something Dara Simkin pointed out in her talk about adaptability. When you think about it, adaptability is probably the number one competitive advantage for companies today. Your ability to adapt to changing circumstances can be the difference between success and failure. Having a playful mindset enables you to be adaptive. In her words: “adaptability is just play in a fancy suit.” Play is not the opposite of work, play is essential to being successful at work! It’s clear from these two examples that play is a serious matter that is also a lot of fun.

Just try it

As much as we love to talk about game design in relation to LXD, it’s best to just do it! That’s why we organised a Game Jam where all participants were invited to test their game design skills. This is a great way to get a taste of designing a playful learning experience using game design. With over twenty games designed in just three days, it was a great success! It goes to show that anyone can start with game design and if you put in some effort, the results will surprise you.

For example, LXDCON’24 participant Stephanie Heart created a small game using Articulate Storyline. Even though she had never used Articulate Storyline in this way, she made it work. As a result, her game was highly rated and came in second!

If you are curious about adding game design to your skill set, simply start creating your first game. Whether it’s a board game, card game, video game or any other kind of game, you can do it!

We had a blast

One final lesson learned is how much fun this edition was. Here’s an impression of this amazing event.

Missed out on this edition? No worries! You can get access to all LXDCON’24 sessions mentioned in this post and all other talks, workshops and resources for €55! Get your rewatch ticket and you have up until at least the end of September 2024 to rewatch everything.

See you next year at LXDCON’25!

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