Gamification – What is it?

Nowadays the term “Gamification” has officially joined our vocabulary, but what is Gamification?

Let’s start analysing the word, it comes from “Game”, so a game or simply having fun with no special reasons.

It’s a tool, a way to convey different messages and stimulate the users to achieve specific goals, either in the personal or in the company field.

It helps to reach specific targets, to fill gaps, for instance it usually helps a company to improve the performance of employees and partners.

It’s like a secret weapon ready to be used to sharpen the blade of whoever discovers it and uses it in the right way.

Let’s discover more about it, I promise you it’s really interesting and why not, maybe you could use it in your next game!

Don’t you know how to make a video game? Then please have a look at “How To Become A Video Game Developer?”.

Definition

What is Gamification

We asked ourselves “What is Gamification?” and we tried to answer analysing it. Now it’s time to extract a true definition from what we discussed before.

Gamification is a set of rules with the goal of applying game mechanics to different activities not related to a game.

Often it’s associated with the working field, because it’s the perfect field to benefit from Gamification.

It can influence the behaviour of people, promoting the enforcement of an active interest in the message of personal improvement and the performance of the company.

Goals

Gamification goals

This tool works because it relies on the wishes and needs of people. For instance it provides goals to achieve, rewards to earn, it motivates the competition and self-expression inside a community.

Gamification is social, the users can discuss, share and compare their own experience through it.

We can identify two big goals:

  • Stimulate an active and measurable behaviour

Through an active involvement the user must do something! In addition it provides all the tools to measure the behaviour of a user, gathering all the data based on actions done inside the game. Therefore it allows us to profile the users and focus on the target.

  • Lead an active interest on the message to communicate

Focus the attention of the user on the chosen message, like the working performance, team building, sales increase etc…

Game mechanics and Game dynamics

Game mechanics and game dynamics

These two features are extremely important in Gamification and to achieve our final goal: “What is Gamification?”.

Let’s start talking about the game mechanics. We can think of them like the tools to make the game infrastructure. The basic ones are the points, the levels, the challenges, the virtual goods and the leaderboards.

The game dynamics instead represent the human needs and the wishes, hidden inside everyone and they can be satisfied through the game mechanics. They can often be the rewards, the state, the self-expression, the competition and the achievement.

As you can see they are extremely related, or even better, every game mechanic is connected and can be satisfied by a specific game dynamic.

Game mechanics vs Game dynamics

Game mechanics vs game dynamics

Let’s analyse the relation between some of the most important game mechanics and game dynamics to better understand what was discussed before.

Points vs Reward

Scoring points is a game mechanic which motivates the user. Then the user can exchange his points to obtain rewards. This teaches the user that investing his time and energy will earn something.

Levels vs State

The levels provide a system to introduce milestones to reach, the user will share and highlight each milestone in his personal state, so he will always feel improved and, step by step, more confident and expert.

Challenges vs Goals

They provide a way to keep going and they motivate the users to reach results in the form of trophies or goals to unlock. The true essence of the goals, anyway, is the capability of showing the goals reached with other users encouraging comparison and  competition.

Visual goods vs Self-expression

The presence of virtual goods increases the user’s interest because they can buy or win a variety of in-game objects. In this way they can personalise their character and experience. They can express themselves through the game and be unique.

Leaderboards vs Competition:

The leaderboard provides a way to divide and order the performance of the users. It could improve the user’s interest in the game. The competition is connected to the aspiration of becoming better inside the team for instance or even better inside the company.

What does the Company and Gamification want?

What company and gamification want

The most common field where Gamification could be applied is the working field, so it’s extremely important to know, after we know what Gamification is, what a company wants and what gamification needs.

Otherwise it would be impossible to create a video game capable of reaching the prefixed result.

Company

  • Make the employees more efficient.
  • Improve the sales performance.
  • Stimulate in a positive way the employees, through fun
  • Enrich the work with a softer and unique experience.
  • Increase the relationship and enthusiasm within the team.

Gamification

  • The user should want to use the game/app
  • The user should receive satisfaction and benefits from the usage of the game/app
  • Let the user have fun using the game/app
  • Motivate the user to encourage other users to use the game/app
  • Stimulate the competition between the users in a team to improve their work.

We can consider these as the guidelines to identify if ours is a good product in the Gamification world.

Gamification IKIGAI

Gamification Ikigai

What you just saw is the IKIGAI of Gamification. Yes you can also answer the question “What is Gamification?” with it. As you imagine, IKIGAI is an oriental word and I’ll leave it to you to investigate it if you don’t know what it is and you are curious.

Let’s go deepen our knowledge of all the points together to finalise the area of interests behind gamification.

Challenge

Create a healthy and entertaining competition between users though the in-game challenges. No pressure, just the desire to take part in a challenge for self satisfaction and self training.

Keep in mind to stimulate the user to be active with challenges not only related to the work. They can let the user acquire points and advantages on other teams for instance.

From here the idea of dividing the challenge in two different types:

  • Working challenge
  • In-game challenge

Training

Imagine a quiz or a similar game where the questions come from the knowledge of software features or a training course.

A single player experience where the user can score points and unlock bonuses to get an advantage in a challenge or to customise his avatar.

In this way the user will be stimulated to play and at the same time he is learning and improving himself.

Team building / Sharing

They are connected because they work together and you need them both in order to reach the goals. Sharing with the team the experience acquired in-game will take the users to the victory of a challenge and to complete the game. Some goals could be reached only by a team.

This creates affinity and it will remain in the real working field.

Customisation

The user should be able to create their own game experience, with the customisation of an avatar, or the customisation of some parts of the game.

We satisfy the user because they can appear as they like and they will show it to the other users creating curiosity.

Satisfaction

A satisfied user will:

  • Spend time in the game.
  • Like to prove themselves.
  • Achieve goals.
  • Feel good using the game.

How can we satisfy them?

  • Proposing material rewards
  • Offering in-game rewards
  • Granting them a good in-game customisation
  • Giving them a way to highlight his qualities with others.

Rewards

The maximum expression of satisfaction for a user is from a victory of a reward. Any challenge becomes interesting if the reward is something concrete. For this reason it’s extremely important in a long term game to let the user have the chance of winning a material reward. 

Regulations

As the word suggests it’s the set of rules to let the game work, the users play equally and create the right equilibrium of  healthy competition.

Conclusion

Even this time we discovered something new and really interesting.

We started from the basics understanding the definition and the goals of Gamification, a powerful set of rules to transform a game in a way to improve the users and help them in team-building.

Then we focused on the game mechanics and game dynamics and the important relation that connects them.

We took the working field as an example and we asked what a company and Gamification want.

In the end we finally reached the IKIGAI of Gamification to explain the connection behind everything.

Keep in mind that we talked about work and companies because it’s the common field of interest, but Gamification concepts can be applied in many different fields like family or friends or a relationship. We can use gamification to improve our experience in all these fields!

Then if I ask you again: What is Gamification? No more excuses anymore! You know the answer.

Don’t forget to have a look at “Gamification For Apps: Increase Engagement And Conversion to stay on topic.

See you for the next journey!

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