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Gamification in 2019 – What you should look out for!

author: @aestranger

Reading time: 10 minutes

Gamification in 2019 – What you should look out for!

For the inaugural post of 2019 for æStranger, I’ll be joining in the look to see what trends and possibilities we should be looking out for in the coming year.

As with last years post, the majority of the content will be own views and impressions of what I’ve seen transpire in the past year and from what I’ve read from other leaders within the field.

I’ll be looking at the industries that I have the most interest in or direct experience with when it comes to Gamification and Game-based learning. Specifically, the sectors of Education & Marketing. For ease of reading, I’ve subdivided these further into:

  • Business & HR
  • University Education & K12 Education
  • AI & IOT
  • AR, VR, MR
  • Mobile Tech & Social Media
  • Blockchain 


The state of Gamification

Last year I talked about the maturation and the end of the hype in Gamification, and I feel that this has happened in some measure. From what I’ve seen myself but also from what I heard from colleagues at the Gamification Europe conference at the end of last year. There seems to be some consensus on that a continuing maturation is still required, but it is now clearer on where we are within the industry and what we need to do to promote growth and become a more acknowledged professional specialism in the public eye.

With that said, the public is still however unsure about whether using gamification solutions are worthwhile, and some are still even unsure about what it is. From personal experience, it still is the basic misconception of what it can offer (beyond the generic PBL’s) and in part the variation of terms we all use to describe it.

Therefore, I’d like to draw your attention to Andrzej Marczewski’s first post of 2019, and what I understand to be a continuing series on “What is Gamification”. Within it, he has chosen the term Game-Based Solutions as an umbrella term. I found this to be straightforward and easy to comprehend for the lay-person. I would like to propose that we all embrace this term more in 2019.

Education & Marketing

More towards the end of the piece I’ll explore the market growth and prospects of Gamification, or rather Game-based solutions, so for those who enjoy number, you are welcome to skip. For those that want to read some impressions, then let’s start with the various sub-topics.

Business & HR

What I mean with the title of “Business & HR” is both the expectation of what the corporate business world and HR will be expecting in 2019 as well as Business education, e.g. Business schools, and L&D within businesses driven in part due to their HR Departments.

The trend towards being more people focused continues in 2019, with more and more tailored experiences being requested and offered, as well as tailored self-development. This in part means that there is a sentiment that the employee experience needs to matter or be more meaningful when they undergo any kind of training. Perhaps it signals a move away from the “mandatory” training culture, which in part has not been positive for gamification. Something that someone truly doesn’t enjoy isn’t suddenly made enjoyable because it has a few game mechanics in it, at least not in my opinion.

What we as service providers do need to keep in mind then, with these trends, is that clients will be expecting more holistic experiences, as well as ones that come as a full, complete package. Rather than separate, unlinked services, that need to be amalgamated in some way. Essentially people are looking centralized, easy, efficient experiences.

This is the main trend that will keep growing is that people will start to consider the learning opportunities that are available when they enter a particular business, and what shape that learning takes, i.e. is it innovative, engaging, immersive and possibly gamified?

In addition to this, we will and are seeing a slow return to more face-to-face experiences, an increase in the “playful” experiences market. On one hand, this is the L&D aspect of needing to train up individuals in soft-skills, such as effective communication and dealing with human crises situations. On the other hand, it is a need to make events more “fun”. Events with game-based experiences are becoming more and more popular and widespread, in part because the game elements increase attendance but also it makes networking easier and the learning from these events and conference has a higher retention rate then.

Naturally, all of this leads to more immersive narrative experiences, of which I am happy to see an increase. But what I do want to say with that is that it isn’t necessarily so much that people take on a role within a narrative, but rather that they are invited to experience a world outside of their norm as themselves. Which are an easier buy-in and a more effective way of engaging individuals?

University & K-12

These essentially will see similar cultural trends as the Business & HR sector, with subjects and classes moving to more narrative-based experiences. As science and psychology are proving and substantiating more and more, what we all already knew to be intrinsically true, that storytelling does indeed improve comprehension and knowledge retention.

This is all augmented with the various popular reports of certain nations and institutions having more effective education models than others. And with the increase of education tuition from primary schooling, all the way to post-graduate education is pushing other nations and institutions to look to more non-traditional solutions, such as game-based ones, to deliver more effective knowledge transfer.

AR, VR, MR, just simply R

What would a trends blog piece be without discussing some variation on R(eality)? I don’t believe that this industry has changed much in the past year, at least from what we as users can expect from it. VR is still very much for the individual and AR is still more suited for the group experience than VR is. MR has sadly made a very little impact yet (if any).

At least we are still continuing to see a decrease in cost and an increase in innovation within the technology. This will hopefully, slowly, make it more viable for it to become ubiquitous. AR in that sense has become more widespread as many game-based experiences are already utilizing the mobile based AR apps that are out there.

AI & IoT

I bet you’re getting tired of all the acronyms by now. But at least AI and IoT should be fairly pervasive by now in everyday vernacular. And these two will continue to be major trends within 2019 and beyond. Through 2018 we have all thankfully garnered a better understanding of what AI and IoT can offer us, not so much the Rise of the Machines, but more the benefits of speed and efficiency it can add to game-based offerings.

With the ease of creating more targeted content for the users, both in education and marketing, thanks to the data gathered by IoT devices and the complex processing algorithms of developing AI. Allowing us to have better and faster-measuring capabilities, metrics and analytics. “Big” data, as it were, remains the key buzzword for this year, and it is now the norm. Hopefully, we will be seeing greater access to AI across all business sizes and deliverables in 2019.

Mobile Tech & Social Media

This part links to IoT when talking about mobile tech, as they are almost one and the same. But here it’s more that every offering has an app, either based on an SDK of the mobile tech’s OS or an HTML web-based app – this again augments and increase personalization, engagement and is inherently always game-based nowadays.

From marketing it gets the user more engaged by creating more interactive-game experiences, to place the user central and create a connection with a product or service. In education and corporate learning, it is to allow users to utilize every minute of every day, the Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device culture. It does appear that there is no change in sight in the expectation of the “constantly online culture” any time soon.

One point I did want to touch on with Social Media, isn’t the usual piece about, it’s here to stay and it will be used more since we all know that anyway. But rather something that is called Dark Social. The Dark Social world is social media that isn’t directly controlled by algorithms from big corporations like Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. This isn’t to say that the applications aren’t made by them, but more and more users are using messenger apps to share, rather than the huge open (algorithm) based networks. I wanted to highlight this, as creators will need to keep more and more in mind that their offerings are mobile (messenger) friendly and incorporate it into their offerings.


Much like AR and VR, a trends piece wouldn’t be complete without talking about Blockchain. To be honest, though blockchain is so new that it’s possibilities and limitations are still being explored. One aspect that it does offer is the security it can offer for “cross-platform” usage when dealing with user data.

What this allows is then the secure migration of user data from one platform to another – perhaps users will no longer need to be bound to single offerings and allow a greater choice in the marketplace both in learning and consumer offerings. The potential for such technology within the game-based solution space almost deserves its own article. And it would allow for much larger collaboration between users and us as creators.

Though, unfortunately, for the time being, I suspect the inherent technology behind blockchain will most likely remain out of reach for the smaller business and regular people.

“Growth” of Gamification and Game-based solutions

As promised, for those that stuck with it, or those that jumped ahead, here is the numbers dump on the growth of the industry.

Overall many of the reports still expect a growth in the Gamification market from 4.91 billion USD (in 2016) to 12 billion USD in 2021 and to 19.39 billion USD by 2023.

Now depending on the sector where gamification is being used the growth can vary between an overall industry CAGR increase of 23.4% (the lowest and most recent estimate I could find in the public domain), to a CAGR of 30.7% for gamified digital tool vendors, to a CAGR of 44.06% for gamified IoT/Device vendors and gamified marketing. The highest was a +45% CAGR for Healthcare and overall enterprise offerings.

These are all encouraging statistics for the industry, but I would recommend that we take these with a pinch of salt – regardless of what the forecasts say, we should continue to double down on our efforts to improve the quality of the deliverables we develop and increase the positive perception of Game-Based Solutions in general. I say this because, beyond the CAGR of 23.4%, many of these public reports will be a year+ old in a few months’ time. And with that, we may see a slowing of growth even further by this time next year if we don’t double-down as it were.


And so, we reach the end of this piece, an entire year’s hopes, dreams, and expectations summarized in a mere 2000 words.

I suppose what we should all focus on in the coming year when dealing, developing and creating engaging experiences based on the above trends are these three points:

  • Be process and outcomes-oriented

Ensure that you have solid outcomes in mind before you start your projects, both for yourself and your clients. And be sure that the process fits those outcomes.

  • Be data-driven but also emotion/empathy aware

Have those metric ready and use them, but they shouldn’t be at the cost of the experience of the group and individual. The cost of efficiency and effective need not be 1 human soul.

  • And finally: Be professional and Keep the stories alive and inject joy & play.


I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.

Please do check out the other posts on æ, and please do leave a comment or contact us if you have some ideas of your own that you wish to discuss or if you would like to see other topics discussed.

Please do Share if you found it helpful and know of someone who would it find it helpful as well.



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