What exactly is gamification? The term is very fresh, as it was formed in common perception in 2002 by Nick Pelling - a programmer and an investigative journalist. The definition of gamification is not quite clear, because all the time there is a process of its transformation depending on the field in which it occurs. It is also impossible to find two people who will give us exactly the same definition of the term in discussion. However, one thing is certain - gamification can be structural and content-based. You will read about its deeper understanding later in this article.
From game to gamification
A declarative definition of gamification is not possible, if only because of the range of its occurrence. The categorization of concepts directly related to gaming, such as sports, music, video games, puzzles or gambling borders on the impossible. In some languages, such as Hungarian, there are problems resulting from the poor synonyms for the word game. In English, there are no such difficulties, because game is synonymous through various connections with the words: toy, play, fun, etc. While trying to define gamification, it is worth stopping for a moment at the definition of a game as such, which can be found in the book Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga. The author classifies a game as a free and voluntary activity taking place at a given time, place, and with certain rules of action. The aim of the game is commonly the search for well-being, as well as lowering the level of tension or stress, while at the same time creating some kind of alternative reality in which one can freely participate. It is worth mentioning that if during gamification there is no specific experience apart from e.g. learning, then we cannot define such activity as a game. So what is gamification?
Reaching for a definition
Gamification is a way of engaging audiences in activities that provide entertainment but also other benefits - such as providing information about a product or persuading them to make a point. It is also a technique that introduces game elements into non-game environments - precisely in order to engage the participant in a particular topic. The situation is similar in the case of UX (User Experience) design, where more and more often solutions are used to create the appearance of applications, aimed at attracting the attention of the recipient through game elements existing in the interface area. Gamification of existing systems is a good idea to gradually increase interest in topics commonly seen as boring or serious. In such a design it is important to maintain the right balance between the theme and the amount of game elements introduced.
Elements and characteristics of good gamification
When engaging a group of people in gamification, you need to remember what elements of it bring better results and allow you to achieve your goal. Among them, the following can be mentioned:
- onboarding - explaining the rules of the game to the participants is an important point, during which all the objectives are explained and the level of difficulty is clarified;
- badges - every participant of any game likes to get badges in order to stand out from the rest to some degree, therefore the application of such an element implies greater involvement of the group;
- rewards - offering concrete rewards in the form of diplomas or even gifts allows for real attraction of attention and good competition;
- levels - the essence of gamification is also introducing levels and statuses of advancement in the hierarchy of importance of the participants, as they allow them to feel important. In short: more effort = higher position in the group;
- leaderboards - help with the desire to prove oneself;
- challenges - make the game complete in its form and not boring
It can be said that there are more and more elements of gamification - as the interest in the topic grows (and it is constantly growing) - there are also more and more ideas for its implementation. It is worth mentioning that gamification works very well as a form of integration, whether in the work area or at many stages of education. It is also a problem solver, which can be:
- engagement in on-the-job training;
- ability to perform down-to-earth/not very interesting tasks that just need to be done;
- employee performance
- organisational/planning performance
- performance in exercising skills
- absorption of knowledge
- maintaining interest among customers, etc.
To sum up - gamification cannot exist just like that. It must always have a context in which it will be applied, and depending on this context, its character will also differ. The definition of gamification should be both perceived broadly and its essence should be felt through the diversity of the spectrum of its functions. There are still a lot of changes and updates to come on this topic, but it is important to see this phenomenon as an ever-evolving one with incredible potential for integrating communities and groups, but also for learning and raising awareness.
Final Thoughts on Gamification as a Form of Activating Group Engagements
Which elements of gamification do you find the most interesting and motivating? Do you think that this form of group integration always works?
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