Before we get to the motivational lever of mastery, it’s best to explore and firmly establish what about rogue-like games makes them such a good lens to use and view mastery through.
Rogue-like games likely have one very recognisable aspect, and that is that they have a severe form of progress. Having permanent, or perma-death for a character and restarting is fairly punishing for a player. But what this mechanic does do very effectively is that it continually (re-)enforces each piece of learning that the player gains, right from the basics all the way to advanced skills. Each playthrough starts from the very beginning and continues onwards, and hopefully beyond the point of the previous playthrough. Game-based learning environments can thus incorporate this framework and scaffolding that rogue-likes incorporate to (re-)teach the basics to the advanced skills in very quick successive loops.
The learning is done through repetition, but this can be dangerous, as repetition can become boring. Anything with the word repetitive instantly brings up an unpleasant feeling in most people. The tedium of repetition is therefore mitigated with the procedurally created environments of the dungeon. As you, the player, re-learn the basics, again and again, you’re at least doing it somewhere fresh with the newly produced environments. Within a game-based experience, you need to think of the procedurally generated environment as a meta-abstraction. This can take the form of a changing narrative or that the experience takes place outside of the familiar; work for example. Workplaces are often where finite consequences exist, the change of ‘environment’ can then create an experience where a pseudo-infinite amount of opportunities are offered, facilitating a safe place to practice, fail and repeat until the player succeeds.
Another meta-abstraction that you may need to consider when relating the framework of a rogue-like to a game-based experience is, as in the example of Rogue Legacy, lasting bonuses, such as equipment or other types of power-ups. Player’s can gain these with playthroughs, and they persist beyond the death of the character. This mechanic exists so that the player doesn’t become disillusioned with the perma-death mechanic and feels that there is some reward for their efforts. In a game-based experience, this can be knowledge, but it would need to be highlighted to the player in a reflective manner so that they become aware of it. Alternatively, it can be something physical, such as a hint-card that the players gain for completing one challenge, and thus lowering the consequence of the next challenge, for example.
Consequences are however a necessary requirement in any learning experience. And the consequences with a rogue-like framework have a very distinct weight and meaning to them. With the possibility of character perma-death and having to restart from the beginning, players are very much discouraged from randomly testing assumptions and seeing if they get lucky. Concrete reasoning, deduction and analysis are encouraged, so that the player embeds their learning in an effort to move forward.
Rogue-likes do this type of learning in a very compact and immediate way, which is very suited to game-based learning experiences used in business and business education. Traditional summative assessment that takes place over long periods of time doesn’t really work in the corporate world very often. Mostly because they frequently do not have the time, nor allow learning from failure and tend to favour finite consequences, which are unhelpful when desiring improvement and innovation.
For business/-education, the summative assessment usually needs to be condensed, where trial & error can be done quickly and repeated often; Game-based Learning environments that use the rogue-like framework of focusing heavily on Mastery, are thus the best methods for delivering condensed forms of learning.