Whether we like it or not sometimes learning can be hard work. Learning your times tables, spellings or just facts and figures can quickly become pretty boring.

When we learn our brains physically change in order to integrate the new things we have learned and this takes energy. The issue with this is that we have evolved to conserve energy in case it’s needed for survival; we might need to run away from a bear or something. That’s maybe not so relevant these days for most of us but our brains and bodies being conservative with energy usage has allowed us to survive to now as a species. The problem comes when we cognitively know that we need to learn something but this isn’t necessarily apparent at a biological level. What we need to do is give our brains signals that there is a benefit from learning whatever it is that we are working on.

How do we do this? Well, some clues come from products that hold our attention without giving us this survival benefit. For recent technology products casual mobile games do this brilliantly. No-one really needs to make lines of three sweets and your chances of survival are in no way improved by your bird-flinging skill level but these games hold our attention incredibly powerfully. They do this in a few different ways. The first thing they do is give us a sense of success through rewards, badges, credits and so on and through levels which are difficult enough to be interesting but easy enough to be doable. Another tool these games use is to give us a sense of progression through a series of levels which makes it feel like you are on the road to… something. Including friends adds in a social factor and gives us a degree of social-proof over our achievements as well, so raises the value of our achievements within the game.

What we have tried to do with Zammer is to take something that people need to do and use the psychological hooks found in products that we don’t really need to use but enjoy anyway, smash them together and hopefully end up with something that makes learning far more effective as a result.