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What is Gamification?


This compiled article is a bit of a departure for, however, we thought it an interesting subject matter. Gamification, what it is and how it engages the user.


[1]Gamification adds game mechanics into non-game environments, like a website, online community, learning management system, or business intranet, to increase participation. Gamification aims to engage with consumers, employees, and partners to inspire, collaborate, share, and interact.

How does gamification work?

Gamification works by providing audiences with proactive directives and feedback through game mechanics and game dynamics added to online platforms that lead to business goals and objectives.

A compelling gamification experience taps into a participant’s emotions and quickly demonstrates the best activities an audience can complete that impact mutually shared goals. Employees or customers interact with a gamification program. They receive immediate feedback on performance and are guided next steps towards new achievements.

[2]Gamification is the addition of game elements to non-game activities

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. It can also be defined as a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements.

Games and game-like elements have been used to Educate, Entertain and Engage for thousands of years. Some classic game elements are; Points, Badges, and Leaderboards.

Points are used as visual identifiers of progress in sports, reward cards and video games.

Badges display achievement, whether from service in the military or a gold star on the school report card.

Leaderboards are used across sports, sales teams, and in general, life to present competitive placement.

For more information on these gamification fundamentals, check out the 8 Core Human Drives Of Gamification. There are many different definitions for the term ‘Gamification.’ One of the most popular definitions can be found in an academic paper from 2011, where gamification was defined as “the addition of game elements to non-game activities.”

What’s interesting is that gamification is not a new concept. While the term may have been coined more recently, the concept has existed in many areas of life for as long as civilization has existed. If you remember watching Mary Poppins, she sums up gamification quite nicely with the quote, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and SNAP! the job’s a game.

She was onto something here. Mary Poppins knew back in the 1960s that anything could be turned into a fun activity by making it into a game. However, there were prominent examples of gamification existing even earlier than Mary Poppins.

Back in the early 1900s, if you were a Boy Scout, you could obtain authentic badges and ranks, a tradition still carried out today. However, as video games started to take off, we saw educational video games become popular in the 1970s and 80s. You may remember such games as ‘Where in the World is Carmen San Diego,’ ‘Reader Rabbit’ and ‘Math Blaster.’ These games were forms of entertainment built for severe purposes, to educate players.

Foursquare is an example of social gamification. If you checked into a location, you would receive points. Check-in to a new place you hadn’t visited before, and you would receive even more points. You could then compare the number of issues you had on a leaderboard with friends, and you could also receive badges for doing extraordinary things like checking in on a boat or checking in with more than 50 people in one place.

If you checked into a place more than anyone else, you became the “Foursquare mayor” of that location. This user experience felt like a game, and it was a lot of fun to use. As a result, Foursquare became a famous example of an app increasing user engagement through loyalty program gamification.

What’s interesting, though, was that the game elements they used started to appear in many different other applications and websites. This may have contributed to these game elements becoming a popular way to add gamification.

These days we’re seeing more and more challenging games in gamification, partly because video games have become mainstream and, as well, smartphones have made it incredibly easy to play games anywhere at any time.

[3]The Appeal of Gamification in User Experience (UX) Design

Gamification is a powerful tool to drive user engagement for several reasons. First, it’s not about transforming user interfaces into games. Instead, you use it to inject fun elements into applications and systems that might otherwise lack immediacy or relevance for users. When you do this right, you incentivize users to achieve goals and help them overcome negative associations with the system and the tasks it requires them to complete. The dynamics designers incorporate in successful gamification themselves serve as compelling intrinsic motivation. This means that users engage with the system because they want to. For instance, Foursquare/Swarm promotes users to “Mayors” of establishments after many visits, enabling them to compete for the top place while enjoying meals, shopping, movies, etc.

To inspire users by introducing gamification into an existing system, you should apply gameplay and the structure of rules and goals to “serious” or mundane tasks. You can gamify systems in many ways, from countdowns to encouragement for completing x percent of a task. People enjoy interactivity and satisfy their curiosity. Sometimes, you can use a suitable social element to increase their engagement.

The Challenge for UX Designers

Gamification is notoriously difficult. It would help if you struck a careful balance between the “fun factor” and the tone of the subject matter. Moreover, it would help to tailor the gameplay and the rewards precisely to the users. The degree of apparent gamification and the nature of trophy-like awards suitable for an app where friends compete won’t suit a corporate environment that prefers more subtle approaches. Simultaneously, you must fulfill specific user needs if “players” use the system without forcing themselves to. Such needs include:

Autonomy – Users’ actions must be voluntary; you shouldn’t push them to adopt desired behaviours but instead insert subtle elements/prompts which they can find on their own and therefore feel in control of their experience.

Relatedness – Users need to feel that your brand cares about what matters to them. Customizing your design’s content and tone are especially useful for fostering their loyalty.

Competence – Related to autonomy, this need is about keeping users comfortable as they discover your design by never feeling overwhelmed or confused. For example, as users typically don’t like reading lots of text, you can use icons (e.g., a heart for “Save to Favorites”) or progressive disclosure.


Anything that engages the user or site visitor is worth looking into. We hope that you have found this article interesting and informative

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