What is Gamification?
Gamification is the application of game elements in non-game contexts to create an enjoyable, often competitive real world user experience, usually in some business context. It is the process of using game design principles to make often boring task more engaging and encourage behaviour change.
The use of gamification can have a range of varied outcomes and usually doesn't result in the design and development of an actual game.
Gamification design is similar to the role of a game designer, but has fundamentally different goals. The job of traditional game designers is predominnantly to create a fun experience for players. Although this is a factor in gamification, the primary goal is to encourage people to complete some task.
Gamification is Nothing New
The idea of incentivising people with game like elements such as points, leaderboards and badges is nothing new. Most of us remember earning prizes or other tokens (such as stars) for achievements early in our education. This is essentially what gamification is.
Gamification vs Game Production
Development of games (both digital and physical) is often confused with gamification. Gamification usually does not result in an actual game being produced. It is merely the application of game design elements to make a task more engaging.
This usually takes the form of gamification elements derived from game mechanics such as scoring, achievements and rewards in order to incentivise the completion of a specific task.
Grey Area in Actual Games Used to Accomplish Tasks
Although a clear distinction between gamification and producing actual video games is widely recognised, there is arguably some overlap.
Particularly when it comes to creating games (either digital or physical) to accomplish serious tasks, there is quite grey area in the middle. For instance, when creating serious games or advergames, there is inevitably a process of applying gaming concepts to non-gaming tasks.
Although technically this falls outside the realms of gamification, it is often argued that the design process is a process of gamifying these tasks. Hence, producing branded computer games, for instance, is sometimes referred to in terms of gamifying marketing.
Common Ways to Use Gamification
A gamification strategy can be applied to almost any task to set goals and motivate people to reach those goals. Some areas that gamification techniques are particularly useful are:
As previously mentioned, gamification has been used as a tool in academic education to increase learner engagement since long before there was even an accepted term for it.
This can be applied and expanded on in more modern forms of learning, such as e-learning. Rewarding progress with points and virtual trophies can help enhance the learning experience by setting goals and motivating learners to progress through the course content.
Using gamification, in the form of high score boards and rewards, in the workplace can help motivate and increase employee productivity and performance. This can be anything from simply creating leaderboards by department to issuing reward/prizes for most productive employees.
Loyalty cards can be a great way to gamify the act of purchasing from any direct consumer facing business. Whether its a coffee shop issuing simple stamp cards or big supermarket loyalty cards, they encourage customers to work towards earning enough points to get free rewards or money off product purchases and that involves returning again and again.
Gamifiying Social Interactions
Social media platforms incorporate gamified elements in the form of stats for shares, "like"s and overall engagement with posts. This essentially gamifies our social interactions to increase user engagement and introduce a level of competition between users to strive to gain higher numbers on their content.
Gamification is an extremely broad topic, just some examples of gamification strategies are:
Businesses might create leader boards to encourage employee engagement, with rewards being given to the top scorers periodically.
Website or App Interaction
Users can be given a score each time they complete a desired task on a website or inside a mobile app. This can then be used to display scoreboards and issue achievement badges in order to incentivise task completion.