Breaking down the Definition
For ease of comprehension, we opted to use the definition that Kevin Werbach uses and unpack it and develop our own definition from the building blocks that it provides. In part, the decision for this was because it used all the terminology that we wanted to explore in order to construct our own specific definition. The terms we wanted to explore are ‘game elements’, ‘game design/technique’, and ‘non-game contexts’.
Game elements are a must, as they are the necessary aspects of any gamification experience, as they are the nuts and bolts of a gamified experience. Game elements are the pieces you place in order to give the experience that game-like feel for the end-user. They are what the player will interact with and will determine whether they believe it to be a ‘game’ or not.
The game design then is the reverse of the coin or the other side of the mirror. It’s the strategy that you as the creator use to develop something that is engaging, it could be anything, but game design places you into the mindset of developing something to that purpose.
Within the game design strategy, certain questions do need to be posed and answered, such as:
- Why are you creating this?
- Why should someone play it?
- Who is it for?
- Will the above change over time?
- How will it look?
And lastly, Non-game contexts are one of the most important aspects to consider as this is what you will need to determine whether what you created is gamification or a game. In our book, we focus on marketing, and therefore the question is; does the gamification solution further the goals of a marketing campaign? If it’s simply fun and engaging and doesn’t achieve any business goals, then we’ve moved from the non-game context into just having a game.
What doesn’t fit
When building your own definition and breaking it down, you naturally need to also look at what doesn’t fit within the concept that you are trying to get across to people.
What we didn’t want is that people come away from this believing that a piecemeal approach to gamification is something that works. This happens especially when people are in a rush, and this relates back to the initial point that the book is not aimed at people looking for a quick fix. What happens in those cases is that, for example, people start adding game elements, like a points system, to something without a sound reason for it. What you get then is essentially the same as pinning the tail to the donkey, it’s fun for a moment because you did something, but it’s fleeting as there’s no substance or continuation beyond that the picture of a donkey now has a tail…
Additionally, the definition needs to be clear enough that people can keep it in mind and know that that is what the goal is. As often when gamification solutions are created, individuals get so caught up in the making of the ‘game’ that they lose sight of the actual reason for making it in the first place: furthering your business goals & increasing customer engagement.
And with that, the final point that the definition needs to cover is that it should be customer-focused, and therefore well thought out. If you go at it without a strong strategy and/or a solid design, then you will likely end up with a something – not a product, service or game, but ‘something’ – that probably won’t be fun, doesn’t engage and is of no use.