Posted by:Monica Samuel May 10th, 2012

Gamification is the use of game design techniques and game mechanics to non-game applications to make them engaging and fun. The technique is being incorporated in application design, especially in the mobile domain, to engage users in activities such as learning, training, skilling, and marketing.

Research from Gartner indicates that by 2015, 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes, and that by 2014 more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.

As defined on Wikipedia, ‘Typically, gamification applies to non-game applications and processes, in order to encourage people to adopt them or to influence how they are used. Gamification works by:
    • making technology more engaging
    • encouraging users to engage in desired behaviors
    • showing a path to mastery and autonomy
    • helping to solve problems and not being a distraction
    • taking advantage of humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in gaming
The technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring such as completing surveys, shopping, filling out tax forms, or reading web sites.’

Gamification of applications involves various elements including:

Rewarding accomplishments

Microsoft pioneered the awarding of badges in online gaming with the Xbox Live service in 2002. The practice lives on. Many apps give rewards to users on achieving milestones. Be the first to complete your profile page and you get a star or a badge. The pull of a reward, the accompanying status and acknowledgement, works like a carrot.

Foursquare uses badges to promote location sharing via ‘check-ins.’ App users are invited to review apps and regular reviewers get prestigious badges tagged to their name. Shopping website or app members get ranked and get privileges. Various learning apps use badges to set goals, assist in instruction follow up, acknowledge expertise levels, enhance status, and promote collaboration among users with similar interests. Badges are great motivators.

Virtual appointments

Some apps need you come back to the app after a specific time interval to take care of something. Via gaming it creates a feedback loop during which the user can be taken another step ahead.

Users’ engagement

Interesting games tend to become addictive. If an app poses a challenge without being overwhelming, users come back to test and validate their skills. Gamers push themselves to perform better. That momentum transforms into learning.

Community platform

A game challenge that requires members to cooperate and work with each other encourages team bonding where cooperation gets more rewards than competition.


Including countdowns in activities is great to inculcate a sense of urgency and engender the quality of time management. The idea is not only to deliver but deliver on time.

Make them curious

Replace a mundane presentation with a story. Spin a tale to include points you want to cover while involving users personally. Include questionnaires or ‘Did You Know?’ elements to surprise and engage. Hint at answers that can be found in subsequent content to pique their interest. This mode of learning leads to higher knowledge retention and a zeal to know more.

Loss aversion

Some games that include appointments send alerts to users before something goes bad in their game premise. For example, if not tended on time, crops die in Farmville. The psychology of avoiding loss triggers needed action in users.

Games incite a range of emotions that keep us going back to them. That’s the pull of gaming. Gamification brings that pull into ordinary applications.

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