What is gamification?
The field of gamification is still young and rapidly developing, so there are
numerous opinions as to what gamification exactly is. a popular – and striking –
Gamification is the use of game elements and game thinking in non-game
environment's to increase target behavior and engagement.
Gamification is about using:
Game elements (not full-games)
and Game thinking (this doesn’t
need to involve game
technique, it’s more about the
way games are designed and
the idea behind games)
in a non-game environment
(commercial as well as not-for-
to increase target behaviour and
engagement (target behaviour is
central to this definition)
Gamification engages users and
changes behavior with the best
ideas from games, loyalty programs
and behavioral economics
A brief history of gamification
Part I - The Origin
The concept behind what become
known as gamification in recent
years was already known almost one
hundred years ago.
Part I – The Name
About the concept’s name, several
authors claim that the
term gamification, a neologism, was
created in 2002 (marczewski, 2012;
penenberg, 2013), (rughinis 2013) by
Nick pelling, a british programmer
and video game designer.
In fact, according to this alleged
author, the word was created in
2002 (pelling, 2011) and became
public in 2003 in pelling website
1980s American airlines, holiday inn and national car rental, among others, introduce
various frequent flier or loyalty and reward programs.
1990s Games such as math blaster and the incredible machine are introduced to
2002 The serious games initiative is launched, a group that plays a key role in the
creation of several games for the U.S. Military. British computer programmer nick
pelling coins the term “gamification.” First gamification consulting firm, conundra, is
formed. While it didn’t last long, it was the first of its kind to offer a service that gamified
consumer products and incorporated enterprise gamification.
2004 the games for change (g4c) initiative is launched, specializing in using games for
social impact. The most famous example is g4c’s peacemaker, which allowed players to
take a side in the arab-israeli conflict to show the difficulty from both perspectives.
2007 bunchball creates dunder mifflin infinity, a gamified website for the tv show, “the
office.” It receives over 8 million pageviews in six weeks.
2010 gamification becomes a popular term.
2011 first gamification summit is held in san francisco, attracting nearly 400 attendees
The ten rules of gamification
So as you set out to “gamify” your business, what are the cardinal rules of gamification?
1. You’re not making a game.
Gamification is not the same as game-making but it is about using game-like mechanics to
improve a business process, or customer experience, or profits.
Game-making is about fun and wonder and challenge and art.
So stop thinking about how you can build a real-time strategy game with resources
allocated according to your customers needs and start focusing on tweaks and
behavioural changes that improve your users’ experience and your bottom line.
2. Know what you are trying to achieve
See #1 above. You’re not trying to make a game. What is the point of your game? To
increase consumer engagement? How will you measure it?
How will you know if you have succeeded?
Write down three things that you want “gamification” to achieve. Make them measurable.
Now hand it to whoever is gamifying your service and say “this is what I want to achieve.
Please help me do it.”
3. Games are rubbish at customer acquisition
Gamification is not a way of acquiring an audience it won’t work, and will be a total waste
of money. Gamify to encourage behaviors amongst your users, to keep them engaged
with your brand or to spread a message. Don’t do it to get customers in the first place.
4. Retention is crucial
Whatever your objective from gamifying, you will achieve it better if you
keep customers coming back regularly.
If you want to make money from selling stuff, it’s easier if your customers value
what you do – and show that by coming back regularly rather than just once.
If you want to spread your brand message, they’re more likely to remember it if
they come back every day for seven days.
If you want them to share with their friends, they need to spend some time to feel
that is useful, fun or rewarding.
Sure, it’s possible to covert prospects to customers with a brilliant experience
when they first visit.
But if you focus on retention you stand a much better chance of success than
relying on endlessly acquiring new customers
6. no, games are not just about
The first thing I hear when talking to people about “gamification” is “we’ll just
add some points, and a leaderboard, and the natural desire for people to be
at the top of the leaderboard will do the rest.”
No, it won’t.
Humans are complex beasts and are classified as gamers into four types.
Everyone is a combination of all these types,
Killers want to beat other people
Achievers want to beat themselves
Explorers want to go places and find out stuff
Socialisers don’t care what they do as long as they are doing it with their friends
7. Make it personal
The most powerful rewards are intrinsic, not extrinsic. That which motivates us is
personal, not predictable.
Broadly (and these are generalisations, not hard-and-fast rules):
Avoid cash rewards.
Allow people to show status (through achievements, aesthetics, personalisation,
Gamify in a persistent world, expect users to progress over time.
Have some profile or personal page, however minimal, to share with the wider
Pyramid of Gamification Elements
Werbach, K. (2013, April). The pyramid of elements [Lecture 4.2]. Coursera. Retrieved from https://class.coursera.org/gamification-
Games are everywhere.
More and more businesses are using gamification to create brand
awareness and drive user engagement. What follows is an A-Z guide of 26
elements you should be aware of when you consider a gamification
marketing strategy for your business
#1: Achievers (Bartle’s Types)
Understanding the ways in which
people may interact with a game
can be essential information for
Many discussions of gamification
include references to Richard
Bartle‘s four player types:
Achievers, Explorers, Killers and
#2: Badges as a Reward
Kevin Warhus writes,
“Since the dawn of Foursquare and a variety of other social check-ins,
rewards and badges have become all the rage… Companies big and
small have long ago realized that it is a great way to connect with
customers and reward them for the use of their service… people naturally
enjoy being praised for their actions and collecting proof of their invested
time and energy to show off to their friends.”
Think about it: What badges have you earned via social games? Why have
they mattered to you?
A recent gamification study conducted by
Stephanie Hermann found that game
challenges must be tailor-made to address
desired target groups.
“One must consider the context of the
underlying application and the user’s state
within the player life cycle to sustain user
Furthermore, her research suggests that
challenges within gamified applications cannot
be generalized and no one-size-fits-all exists. The
challenge setup must be tailor-made
depending on the context and the target
audience and should involve diverse
An important consideration for businesses as they think about integrating
games into their brand experiences is to know the demographics of
Statistics from the 2011 Los Angeles Games Conference revealed that:
“50% of gamers are reported as being female, 30% are over 45, and in
the U.S. there are 40 million active social gamers (who play at least 1 hour a
week), and there are over 200 million gamers on Facebook.”
#7: Gifts (Game
Gifts are one of several types of
mechanics used in games to motivate
While some games may utilize real-
world gifts in the form of money, gift
cards, etc., many games motivate
players with virtual gifts; e.g., flowers,
According to Nicholas Yee,
“Killers use the virtual construct to
cause distress on other players, and
gain satisfaction from inflicting
anxiety and pain on others.”
Leaderboards are one of the major features of
games. They are defined on the Gamification Wiki
“A means by which users can track their
performance subjective to others. Leaderboards
visually display where a user stands in regards to
other users. They are implemented on sites to show
which players have unlocked the most
achievements. The desire to appear on the
Leaderboards drives players to earn more
achievements, in turn fueling deep engagement.”
It’s essential to consider what motivates
players when you think about creating
an effective and successful design for a
Gabe Zichermann writes,
“Good gamification design seeks to
understand and align an organization’s
objectives with a player’s intrinsic motivation
(an innate drive to do something, or your
pursuit of activities that are rewarding in and
of themselves). Then, through the use of
extrinsic rewards and intrinsically satisfying
design, move the player through their
journey of mastery. This journey requires
elements such as desire, incentive,
challenge, reward and feedback to create
#14: Progress Bar
Believe it or not, the profile completeness bar on
LinkedIn can be seen as an example of game
mechanics. By seeing how much more
complete the profile needs to be, many people
will be driven to take steps to 100% completion
with the promise of being able to take
advantage of LinkedIn’s more advanced
Linkedin progress bar
LinkedIn gamifies profile completion.
Kris Duggan has some important insights
into rewards. He writes,
“Status and virtual rewards are only as
valuable as the community in which
they are awarded and displayed. Smart
gamification requires a deep integration
of a rewards program across a brand’s
entire user experience, whether that be
on its main homepage, mobile app,
community, blog or any other digital
touchpoint with the brand.”
Make your community a valuable user
experience where users will be proud to
participate and as a result will be more
inclined to value your rewards.
Virtual Environments and Engagement
Users’ Needs and Goals
Socialites (Bartle’s Type)
Examples of 15 brands using gamification and the
specific mechanisms they use to engage users:
1. Xbox Live achievements, leaderboards
2.CheckPoints virtual currency, rewards
3. Foursquare badges, rewards
4.LinkedIn progress bar
5.SalesForce leaderboard, achievements, leveling
6.Mint achievements, progress bar
7.CheckPoints virtual currency, rewards
8.ShopKick virtual currency, rewards, contests
9.Starbucks leveling, rewards
10.Nike achievements, badges, challenges,
Advantages of Gamification in
Gamification aids in cognitive development in adolescents - Using
gamification to aid in cognitive development will allow an increase
in the activity of the regions of the brain to allow for adequate
development. Games that are produced specifically for enhancing
cognitive development are often referred to as “brain games.”
In some cases, it aids in physical development - Exercising with an
interactive game is just as effective as normal exercise. This form of
exercise will be very beneficial in adolescents that enjoy playing
video games but are not currently physically active.
Gamification increases level of engagement in classrooms - Game-
like atmosphere are favorable in the classroom and increased
Gamification aids in accessibility in the classroom - Gamification
can be used as a teaching tool to educate adolescents of all
needs. Scientists studied the effectiveness of using gamification in
the form of a video game to teach students diagnosed with autism.
Gamification isn’t limited to the classroom - Gamification is not
limited to the classroom but can be used in learning outside the
Advantages in Marketing
Collect Powerful Customer Data - Most gamification platforms require users
to log in with a valid email address or social media credentials. From
that point on, your company is able to gather data on that person and
see what they do on your website.
Crowdsourcing Helps You Solve Complex Business Problems - Another
benefit to having customers log in and participate on your website is
that it allows you to use them as a sounding board. Companies like
Allstate and GE have turned to crowdsourcing to help them come up
with answers to complex business questions.
Gamification Can Be an Educational Tool - Gamification is a creative
and useful way to introduce customers to a new product you may be
launching. Similar to giving a free trial of your product, you can let users
test out your product in the form of a game designed to teach them
how to use it.
Gamification Offers a Way to Give Back to the Community - Rather than
just benefitting themselves and solving their business problems,
some companies are giving back to the communities connected to
their industry by using games for the greater good.
Stay Relevant With Your Customers - Gamification can help you remind
your customers that you are present and engaged with them.
Advantages in Work Flow
Entertaining - Gamification approach, you make routine tasks or learning a bit
more enjoyable. If users want to play the game you’ve created, then you’ll
keep their attention and interest while reminding them of what they learned
and how to apply it.
Managerial Insights - When your employees are participating in a gamified
learning experience, managers can observe how often sales reps are playing
and how successful they are. You can quickly identify those who are struggling
and not advancing at the expected pace, those who aren’t playing at all, and
those who are excelling at it. This enables managers to know where to spend
their time in helping some while appreciating experts.
Rewards - The only thing sales reps might like more than a good competition is a
valued reward. A key ingredient of any game is a reward, not only for finishing
or winning, but also for achieving higher levels and making progress.
Disadvantages of Gamification
Lack of planning and strategy. Gamification is only effective when it
encourages specific behaviors to achieve specific goals. Too many business
gamification implementations don't identify success factors and therefore don't
incentivize the right behaviors. Additionally, game mechanics must be designed
to engage a specific audience.
Bad processes. Game mechanics can motivate people to operate in
accordance with specific goals when those goals are well defined. But even if
the goals are clear, they might not align with business objectives. Gamifying
bad goals can be just as destructive as ignoring goals altogether.
Poor design. Expectations for games have never been higher. Points and
badges alone won't hold users' attention if the underlying game design doesn't
motivate people to play.
Unrealistic expectations. Business gamification can be effective when it's
directed at a specific audience, supported with specific, effective goals, and
built professionally to ensure engagement. But of course it has limitations.
Application areas of Gamification.
Future Trends and Research Areas of Gamification
A business-oriented social networking service. Founded in December
2002 and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional
networking. In 2006, LinkedIn increased to 20 million viewers.
Ever since the company rolled out Endorsements, networking with
colleagues on the site is more like playing a game of “Snood” by
LinkedIn added Notifications to members’ homepages in September.
In November, the company reported in a third quarter earnings call
that members had posted four times as many comments on other
The profile completeness bar on LinkedIn can be seen as an example
of game mechanics. By seeing how much more complete the profile
needs to be, many people will be driven to take steps to 100%
completion with the promise of being able to take advantage of
LinkedIn’s more advanced features.
When you visit LinkedIn, one of the most
ominous features encouraging profile
completion is the progress bar telling you
that your profile has a long way to go
before you’re complete.
This very basic example of “gamification”
has helped LinkedIn efficiently grow its
global user base with relevant, accurate
and high-value data. In simple terms,
Gamification means to use game theory
or game mechanics in non-game
situations to manipulate and reward
Real Application of Gamification
Collecting badges in Foursquare
(Game Mechanic: Collection, Achievement)
Foursquare is both a way to collect
and record locations that you’ve
visited, but has layered on mayorship
and badge collection.
Through Foursquare, checking in the
most in the last month for a restaurant
can make you mayor of that location.
A contender for the position can
trigger a competition for mayorship.
Foursquare also allows their users to
unlock badges based on their check-
A company that develops games for use on social networking websites
such as Facebook and Google+, as well developing games for Apple
iOS and Android
Over the course of just a few years, Zynga has built a company valued
at over 15 billion USD with over 200 million monthly active users (MAU) of
Zynga’s games are a success because.
i. Zynga’s games are free-to-play. They require no payment by the
player to access and participate in the main features of the game.
ii. Zynga’s games are social. Players perform social interactions as a
core part of their playing experience. Therefore, many believe
that “. . . the runaway success of the online games from Zynga can
largely be attributed to how they bring together acquaintances
who otherwise wouldn’t have much to say to one another . . .”
iii. Zynga’s games offer a continuous stream of engaging gameplay.
The game environment Zynga provides engages players by
offering them “new and exciting game content”
Zynga (Farmville game)
The most successful example of gamification to date
is Farmville. Farmville is a game played online via
Facebook and has arguably set the standard for all
other meta games.
The premise of Farmville is very simple. Players must
run a virtual farm in which the usual farm activities
must be completed such as growing crops and raising
animals. However, Zynga have incorporated a
number of particularly clever aspects which have
enabled Farmville to boom in the extraordinary
fashion it has done
This viral element helps spread the use of Farmville
dramatically as people are actively encouraged to
invite friends and provide gifts. Other than this
method, items in the game can either be purchased
through virtual cash or players
The other key element to the
gamification of Farmville is the way it
coaxes players .
Meta games need to provide a reason
for players to come back in order to
promote long term business and
Farmville does this by ensuring that if
players do not actively return to their
virtual farms frequently their crops will
begin to die and their farm will fall apart.
Therefore money, points and status are
Leveling Up in My Starbucks Rewards (Game Mechanic: Points,
Achievement, Leveling, Rewards)
Starbucks has a rewards program
called My Starbucks Rewards. Basically,
it starts with a Starbucks gift card pre-
loaded with cash, but the game
mechanics kick in as soon as you’ve
registered your card.
After registration, Starbucks shows a
progress bar and points in the form of
stars to track your progress. Stars are
earned for every purchase with your
registered Starbucks card.
Farmville is able to attract over 30 million users every day, illustrating it is a
reliable blueprint for companies that wish to follow in their footsteps. The
company that created Farmville, Zynga, which is based in California, is now
estimated to be worth nearly $4 billion due to the success of the game and
other meta games like it which have also reached vast audiences via
Cloud storage supplier Dropbox has
included an element of gamification in its
platform by offering additional storage
space if users complete certain tasks.
A free account gives you access to 2GB of
storage, but you can earn an extra 250MB
just by taking a tour of Dropbox’s services.
There’s also 125MB up for grabs for
connecting your account to either Twitter
or Facebook, following Dropbox on Twitter
or leaving feedback.
Future Trend of Gamification
-Gamefication have become interested in harnessing the potential of
gaming mechanics and sensibilities as tools for advancing learning.
A “serious gaming” movement has arisen to apply gaming techniques to
such realms as
military and corporate and first-responder training programs.
civilization and environmental ecology simulations
news events and public policy campaigns
problem-solving strategies in the natural sciences
Based on Brian Burke’s research, future
projected where Gamification is
combined with other emerging trends and
may result in significant change on different
business and society, including:
An explosion of innovation
The design of employee performance
The globalization of advanced education
The gamification of personal development
The emergence of customer engagement
“The future of eLearning cannot be boring
courses lacking engagement or emotional
response…the future of eLearning must
include games and gamification.” ~ Karl Kapp
"Gamification has nothing to do with computer games," says Ira Winkler,
president of Secure Mentem, a computer security firm in Annapolis, Md. "Rather,
it's the application of gaming principles to a business problem.“
But gamification is not a term that has been embraced widely in the business
world. "As soon as you use the word 'game' in a corporate environment, there
tends to be a lot of pushback, as work is supposed to be serious and games are
not," says Jordan Schroeder, IT security administrator.
Alongside the rising trend of "gamification," or the application of game
mechanics to tasks that are not traditionally associated with play, a transreality
approach to gaming incorporates mechanics that extend over time and
space, effectively playing through a players day-to-day interactions and
Gamification is a trending technology that we all should embrace in that its a
great link to human computer relationship and thus creating a free thinking,
exciting and very friendly working environment .