From your favourite coffee shop’s reward card to applications that help you meditate or learn a new language, game elements like points and leaderboards are everywhere. These techniques are often referred to as ‘gamification.’ Though often used as a fancy buzzword, many are unsure of what gamification actually entails. In this post we’ll explore what gamification is, how it is used, and why it is so effective at engaging users.
Gamification simply put means the application of game design principles in non-games contexts, and it is increasingly used in many different areas and industries. Computer games are designed to provide engagement for users by incentivising and rewarding certain types of behaviour. By utilising these same design principles, we can make more mundane areas of life, such as buying your morning coffee or even going for a walk, more engaging and exciting. And by rewarding and reinforcing these behaviours through gamification, we can also create more formed habits.
Three of the most common gamification elements are:
A point system acts as a reward, telling users that they are performing the correct behaviour and reinforcing it. For example, your favourite coffee shop may have a rewards app that gives you a point every time you make a purchase. Points tell the user that they are engaging in positive behaviour and progressing towards a reward; and reinforces that behaviour with a hit of dopamine. Before they know it, a user may be buying a fancy latte every single morning or buying one for their colleague as well as themselves.
Badges and Achievements
Using our coffee shop example, after earning a certain number of points, users may become a VIP member or receive a free drink. These achievements act as larger rewards to keep the user engaged and motivated.
Badges and titles such as ‘VIP’ or ‘Gold Member’ also act as a status symbol, displaying to others your dedication or skill.
Now that users are receiving their points and rewards, they want to see where they compare to others. Leaderboards are an additional way to show off to others your skill, as well as add some healthy competition amongst users. Utilising competitiveness is a great way to add some excitement to an otherwise boring task.
By rewarding and reinforcing these behaviours through gamification, we can also create more formed habits.
There are many other gamification tools and techniques, such as timers and avatars, but above are just a handful of the most popular. These three all specifically add a sense of progression to a task. For many, especially those with learning difficulties like ADHD and dyslexia, adding an additional element of progression can assist in motivating them to complete tasks they otherwise may find boring or unfulfilling.
Gamification in Education
A key industry that benefits from incorporating gamification is education, with tools like ‘Kahoot!’ creating gamified classroom experiences with timed quizzes and leader boards. Especially for those who struggle to engage with conventional classroom or worksheet-based learning, educational games and tools can open a world of new skills and knowledge.
At Academii, our LMS utilises gamification via a points and leaderboard system, as well as unlocking badges for users based on their activity. We find these tools bring out healthy competition between learners and act as additional incentive to keep learning.
We also create a variety of games to teach learners new workplace skills, both on our LMS and using virtual reality. You can learn more about learning via games and our VR products on the Academii blog.