Background Gamification, the use of game elements in non-game contexts, has become a popular technique to improve instructional outcomes in both organizational and educational contexts. In the organizational context, the Technology-Enhanced Training Effectiveness Model [TETEM] provides a framework to understand how technologies, like gamification, can effect change in various instructional outcomes. Specifically, application of TETEM suggests that gamification may not effect change in instructional outcomes when learner attitudes towards game-based learning and experience with video games are low. Method In this study, we test this model in the gamification context by assigning potential learners to read scenarios describing gamified instruction or traditional, PowerPoint instruction in a random order and assessing their training valence. Results On average, participants anticipated greater value from gamified instruction, but as predicted by TETEM, this effect was moderated by both video game experience and attitudes towards game-based learning. Among potential learners with high experience and attitudes, gamification produces better outcomes than PowerPoint, but among potential learners with low experience and attitudes, gamification produces worse outcomes than PowerPoint. Implications We provide empirical support for TETEM and conclude that for gamification to be successful, the attitudes and experience of participants must be assessed and ensured before gamification is implemented.