If you’re reading this, you likely have an idea of what gamification is or was. For the average individual, it’s probably a handful of tools and elements, like badges and points, that help gets people hooked and engaged when they do something. And to an extent, yes this is part of it, but only a small part.
Gamification describes a way of doing something and it has become a catch-all term for anything that adds game elements and techniques to something that isn’t a game. The concept of gamification was probably cemented a decade ago, where various companies who sold themselves as gamifiers and guru’s popped up and just offered these simple techniques as services. Naturally, these didn’t work, as they weren’t well thought out, they weren’t holistic and they were too short-term in their requirements and strategies.
So gamification was dismissed as a fad, a momentary trend. But gamification currently is a different animal. What I want to get across is that there is a methodology known that uses gameful design techniques, behavioural psychology, learning and marketing techniques. For lack of a better term or description we will continue to use ‘Gamification’ as the descriptor for that methodology, but do not confuse it with the ‘quick-fix’ or ‘obsession-machine’ that it had become at one point in the past.
Gamification is a way of understanding the psychology that motivates us and engages us to do certain actions with certain outcomes. It then uses the knowledge and principles of this and applies them to an organisation’s strategies, be they learning & development, marketing or others. Adding game elements and mechanics are only secondary to this process, it happens after you’ve figured out what drives the consumer or the employee, and then you help them to move with you to the desired goal.
So, what does this current form of gamification look like then? Well, the surface visage of a gamified experience will likely look unchanged or be so subtle that you don’t even see it. If it’s the latter, then it’s probably a very successful gamification initiative. A good analogy is with film editing, if you start to notice the cuts then it probably wasn’t done very well and it’s bad editing. But if you don’t see or notice the cuts in the edit, then its probably a very good editor and the editing was done well.
Let’s have a look at a few examples of gamification in action, some are clear and others are less obvious but still effective.