Show and Tell: Gamified eLearning in Articulate Storyline 3

Today, it’s more important than ever to not pump out boring eLearning courses. If your content and interactions aren’t memorable, the information won’t stick. And with learners’ high expectations, you don’t want to disappoint.

While we build learning games using a variety of development tools, you’d be amazed at how far a developer can take Articulate Storyline when creating game-like experiences.

We want to highlight a recent project from our own Learning Technologist, Kathryn Steele. Kathryn created an eLearning course in Articulate Storyline 3 called “Abby Goes to the OBGYN.” The results demonstrate how an eLearning course can use game elements to simulate a learner’s journey and make the learner part of the experience.

Learning Overview

Abby Goes to the OBGYN is a learner-controlled eLearning experience. It makes a linear course feel interactive and engaging because learners are able to actively participate. In a course, active learning goes beyond passively reading content, listening to a lecture, or watching a video. It’s a learning technique that challenges learners to engage through the following ways:

  • Mental contributions
  • Hands-on activities
  • Investigation, discovery, and interpretation

By combining active learning with a learner-centered approach, Abby Goes to the OBGYN gives people the illusion that they are in control of their learning. It motivates them to learn and gives them the power and opportunity to explore.

The course also includes various game elements and mechanics that enhance the overall learner experience. For example, the use of story pulls through the entire course. The learner follows Abby’s journey as she visits the OBGYN clinic. It’s much easier to remember facts when they are part of a narrative, rather than when we simply have the facts devoid of any “story” or context around them. The course also includes aesthetics that help pull players in. They offer visual cues that guide the course direction.

Technical Overview

If you are an eLearning Developer who is highly technical or just love to know how things work…this section is for you!

Abby Goes to the OBGYN uses two important features: animated .gifs and triggers. Abby is composed of six different states that allow her to move in different directions. She can walk left, walk right, face left, face right, sit, and face backward. When the learner presses a designated key for a certain direction, Abby’s walk states are triggered to move along a relative motion path. Her static states (face left, face right, etc.) are triggered when the motion path completes. This allows Abby to start in a static state, walk, and end in a static state along a single relative point motion path. Abby’s sit and back states are triggered when the user presses a designated key and serve as an interactive trigger for various objects on the stage.

Trigger Options

These interactions are possible by using Articulate Storyline 3’s new trigger options. These triggers are “object intersects” and “object intersection ends.” Combining these two functions triggers when Abby, our object, intersects with a target. In this course, the receptionist is a good example of a target. In order to check in for her appointment, Abby must intersect with the receptionist. If you want to revert an event, you can create another event when Abby stops intersecting with a target.

Using true/false variable triggers can cause layers and objects to appear when Abby intersects and stops intersecting if her state changes. For example, if we want an event to trigger when Abby sits on an object, we create triggers that not only happen when Abby is intersecting with the object, but also when that object is set to “true.” We can use these same trigger combinations for various other interactions in our eLearning courses to show or hide layers, hide or unhide objects, and limit or control player mobility.


You can learn more about this eLearning experience by viewing the full course here.

Bonus Feature

Although you’re never directly guided to them… there are several “easter eggs” spread throughout the game that you can click. (Not necessary, but fun little interactions for those people who like to click on everything).

These items include:

  • Cat: you can click on him whenever he is on the page and he purrs.
  • Bell in the lobby: (5 times, 10 times, and 15 times). Eventually, the receptionist will take it away.
  • Picture frames: in the opening scene with the Play to Learn cover and the Blockbusters team logo.
  • Window & exam table in the patient room.
  • Fridge opens & blinds close: in the last slide with the rotating scenes.

You can also view Kathryn’s Articulate Forum post on the course here.