Gamification – Definition

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Gamification Definition

Gamification is where you incorporate a game system into an already existing website or an online community for the purpose of inspiring participation, consumer loyalty, and user engagement. This is done by simply employing a game designer and using it to non-game experiences.

The non-game experience motivates the actions that improve the value of the business. This is because through gaming people are naturally influenced to engage in competition, collaboration, achievement as well as charity. Gamification, in other words, has positive effects on individuals.

A Little More on What is Gamification

Gaming is one of the key tools that can help you achieve the desired behavior as it is a real-time motivator. It can help businesses to achieve awesome results. The main point of using gamification in business is to ensure that it engages users in order to bring about anticipated change.

Marketers may use gaming to improve consumer engagement as well as influence their behavior in a positive way. To be able to achieve this, there should be, for example, a reward for consumers whenever they purchase something, use a product or sign up. Staff also needs to be rewarded in order to motivate them to engage more in their work.

Gamification Principles

Also, there are principles that apply to gamification. These principles are essential when setting up your apps or websites. They are as follows:

  • Rewards: The gamification should include rewards. The rewards can be something which makes the recipient feels motivated about something. Making someone feel positive is key if your goal is to change behavior. A consumer, for instance, can be awarded say virtual points. The virtual points awarded to the consumer should be attached to exclusive privileges and rewards such as prizes.
  • Leaderboards: Most people would want to experience high status, have a good reputation as well as being part of the competitive world. That urge to out-doing others or wanting to be at the top (rising up the ranks) increases the level of participation since everyone wants to achieve just that. Leaderboards motivate people to set clear goals and work towards achieving these goals.
  • Loss Aversion: losing is not something that people like experiencing. For this reason, people will work hard to ensure that they prevent losses and acquire gain in the process. When designing gamification, introduce something that they can lose and which can only be avoided by ensuring hard work. The loss version, therefore, motivates people to work hard so as to avoid experiencing losses.
  • Feedback: What may make gamification addictive is to ensure that there is proper feedback to the users. It must show the results of a certain action. For instance, you can have an automated point reward system where the user can see and also witness the action being taken in that direction. The users will be motivated to continue engaging in that particular activity so as to accumulate as many points as they can. They may even become addicted to using a certain service or product in the long run which is beneficial to the business.

Elements in Gamification

When employing gamification, there are various elements that you need to put into consideration. These factors MUST be applied at the same time so that they can effectively influence a behavior you are targeting to motivate or trigger. The gamification system elements include the following:

  • Ability Motivate an action: The gamification should be able to drive users into doing something that adds value to the business. In other words, it should be capable of emotional investment.
  • Ability to Complete an action: Gamification should ensure that one is able to carry on with a task to the end. If it is the action of buying, then the gamification should ensure that the purchasing action materializes.
  • Ability to trigger and complete an action: Finally, the gamification should be able to trigger an action and ensure that the action is completed.

Note that for the above factors to work well, the key thing is to ensure proper timing when applying these elements. They must always be applied simultaneously or else the user may get frustrated.

What you can Achieve with Gamification

So, how does gamification help businesses? Gamification can help businesses to achieve many things. It reduces the engagement crisis by ensuring that there is an increased attention span as well as retention. Well-structured gamification if well applied, can help a business to achieve the following:

  • Drives user-engagement
  • Increase loyalty
  • Motivating the desire for action amongst employees.
  • Increases sales
  • Improves data collection strategies
  • Changes a particular behavior or solving a business problem

Gamification Benefits to Small Online Businesses

Gamification delivers results that are tangible. This means that the vendor can measure the outcome using analytical tools. Gamification has ensured that there is increased engagement across all social media platforms both internally as well as externally. Some of the benefits that businesses have been able to experience after making use of gamification include the following:

  • More traffic on the websites
  • Reduced time for adoption
  • Reduced time for onboarding
  • A conversation which includes free trial to people purchasing products and services.

However, there are drawbacks that may result from the use of gamification. This is so especially where there is no proper management. One major drawback is that it may bring about high-levels of expectations. This may create a false set of motivation, which may be detrimental to your online business.

Generally, it is important to note that for any gamification system to work well, it should complement, and not substitute the already existing systems. Also, in this millennial generation, you should not use money as the only center for motivation. There are other various types of motivation that are more influential besides money that you can use as an incentive. So, if you want to increase the level of motivation, ensure that you employ different sets of motivation.

Advantages of Gamification in eLearning

Apart from helping the business to scale the heights, gamification is also beneficial when it comes to e-learning. The following are some of the advantages of using gamification in e-learning:

It ensures a better learning experience. In other words, the learner is able to experience fun, and at the same time, learn especially where there are high levels of engagement.

It increases the level of knowledge retention in that it is easy for users to remember what they have learned.

The gamification ensures instant feedback. This way the learners are able to gauge their level of understanding.

It promotes behavior change among users. For instance, when you introduce things such as points, leaderboards or badges, it makes the learning more engaging and interesting too. There will be an increased competition level as everyone wants to win. However, this requires that you include other principles such as a well spread out repetition for it to work effectively.

It accomplishes most learning needs. For example, it can be used to fulfill needs such as:

  • Onboarding
  • Customer support
  • Induction
  • Product sales
  • Soft skills
  • Compliance
  • Awareness creation


It is true that gamification may not help you achieve all you want for your business. However, it is a tool that can prove to be powerful when it comes to business solutions. It can help move your business to the next level if well designed, implemented, and managed.

All you need is to ensure that the system consists of varied methods as well as provide information that is valuable to your business. You can integrate gamification in an area like marketing or use it to motivate employees.

Note that the standards (quality) you set when executing the gamification is a key determinant of how successful your business can be. It should, therefore, be fan enough to convert users to customers, motivate employees, make learning fun, and awesome.

References for Gamification

Academic Research on Gamification

From game design elements to gamefulness: defining gamification, Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R., & Nacke, L. (2011, September). From game design elements to gamefulness: defining gamification. In Proceedings of the 15th international academic MindTrek conference: Envisioning future media environments (pp. 9-15). ACM. Recent years have seen a rapid proliferation of mass-market consumer software that takes inspiration from video games. Usually summarized as “gamification”, this trend connects to a sizeable body of existing concepts and research in human-computer interaction and game studies, such as serious games, pervasive games, alternate reality games, or playful design. However, it is not clear how “gamification” relates to these, whether it denotes a novel phenomenon, and how to define it. Thus, in this paper we investigate “gamification” and the historical origins of the term in relation to precursors and similar concepts. It is suggested that “gamified” applications provide insight into novel, gameful phenomena complementary to playful phenomena. Based on our research, we propose a definition of “gamification” as the use of game design elements in non-game contexts.

Gamification. using game-design elements in non-gaming contexts, Deterding, S., Sicart, M., Nacke, L., O’Hara, K., & Dixon, D. (2011, May). Gamification. using game-design elements in non-gaming contexts. In CHI’11 extended abstracts on human factors in computing systems (pp. 2425-2428). ACM. “Gamification” is an informal umbrella term for the use of video game elements in non-gaming systems to improve user experience (UX) and user engagement. The recent introduction of ‘gamified’ applications to large audiences promises new additions to the existing rich and diverse research on the heuristics, design patterns and dynamics of games and the positive UX they provide. However, what is lacking for a next step forward is the integration of this precise diversity of research endeavors. Therefore, this workshop brings together practitioners and researchers to develop a shared understanding of existing approaches and findings around the gamification of information systems, and identify key synergies, opportunities, and questions for future research.

Does gamification work?–a literature review of empirical studies on gamification, Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., & Sarsa, H. (2014, January). Does gamification work?–a literature review of empirical studies on gamification. In 2014 47th Hawaii international conference on system sciences (HICSS) (pp. 3025-3034). IEEE. This paper reviews peer-reviewed empirical studies on gamification. We create a framework for examining the effects of gamification by drawing from the definitions of gamification and the discussion on motivational affordances. The literature review covers results, independent variables (examined motivational affordances), dependent variables (examined psychological/behavioral outcomes from gamification), the contexts of gamification, and types of studies performed on the gamified systems. The paper examines the state of current research on the topic and points out gaps in existing literature. The review indicates that gamification provides positive effects, however, the effects are greatly dependent on the context in which the gamification is being implemented, as well as on the users using it. The findings of the review provide insight for further studies as well as for the design of gamified systems.

Defining gamification: a service marketing perspective, Huotari, K., & Hamari, J. (2012, October). Defining gamification: a service marketing perspective. In Proceeding of the 16th international academic MindTrek conference (pp. 17-22). ACM. During recent years “gamification” has gained significant attention among practitioners and game scholars. However, the current understanding of gamification has been solely based on the act of adding systemic game elements into services. In this paper, we propose a new definition for gamification, which emphases the experiential nature of games and gamification, instead of the systemic understanding. Furthermore, we tie this definition to theory from service marketing because majority of gamification implementations aim towards goals of marketing, which brings to the discussion the notion of how customer / user is always ultimately the creator of value. Since now, the main venue for academic discussion on gamification has mainly been the HCI community. We find it relevant both for industry practitioners as well as for academics to study how gamification can fit in the body of knowledge of existing service literature because the goals and the means of gamification and marketing have a significant overlap.

Gamification: designing for motivation, Deterding, S. (2012). Gamification: designing for motivation. interactions, 19(4), 14-17. Social Mediator is a forum exploring the ways that HCI research and principles interact—or might interact—with practices in the social media world.

Raising engagement in e-learning through gamification, Muntean, C. I. (2011, October). Raising engagement in e-learning through gamification. In Proc. 6th International Conference on Virtual Learning ICVL (Vol. 1). Sn. Games are part of day to day life, entertaining users, but at the same time modelling behaviors. By applying game mechanics and dynamics to tasks and e-learning processes we can increase user engagement with an e-learning application and its specific tasks. While having multiple uses in commercial practices, gamification implies well established techniques similar to those found in games. We will take a closer look at the ones that are appropriate to the learning process and moreover to e-learning and analyze relevant examples.

Gamification in theory and action: A survey, Seaborn, K., & Fels, D. I. (2015). Gamification in theory and action: A survey. International Journal of human-computer studies, 74, 14-31. Gamification has drawn the attention of academics, practitioners and businessprofessionals in domains as diverse as education, information studies, human–computer interaction, and health. As yet, the term remains mired in diverse meanings and contradictory uses, while the concept faces division on its academic worth, underdeveloped theoretical foundations, and a dearth of standardized guidelines for application. Despite widespread commentary on its merits and shortcomings, little empirical work has sought to validate gamification as a meaningful concept and provide evidence of its effectiveness as a tool for motivating and engaging users in non-entertainment contexts. Moreover, no work to date has surveyed gamification as a field of study from a human–computer studies perspective. In this paper, we present a systematic survey on the use of gamification in published theoretical reviews and research papers involving interactive systems and human participants. We outline current theoretical understandings of gamification and draw comparisons to related approaches, including alternate reality games (ARGs), games with a purpose (GWAPs), and gameful design. We present a multidisciplinary review of gamification in action, focusing on empirical findings related to purpose and context, design of systems, approaches and techniques, and user impact. Findings from the survey show that a standard conceptualization of gamification is emerging against a growing backdrop of empirical participants-based research. However, definitional subjectivity, diverse or unstated theoretical foundations, incongruities among empirical findings, and inadequate experimental design remain matters of concern. We discuss how gamification may to be more usefully presented as a subset of a larger effort to improve the user experience of interactive systems through gameful design. We end by suggesting points of departure for continued empirical investigations of gamified practice and its effects.

Assessing the effects of gamification in the classroom: A longitudinal study on intrinsic motivation, social comparison, satisfaction, effort, and academic performance, Hanus, M. D., & Fox, J. (2015). Assessing the effects of gamification in the classroom: A longitudinal study on intrinsic motivation, social comparison, satisfaction, effort, and academic performance. Computers & Education, 80, 152-161. Gamification, the application of game elements to non-game settings, continues to grow in popularity as a method to increase student engagement in the classroom. We tested students across two courses, measuring their motivation, social comparison, effort, satisfaction, learner empowerment, and academic performance at four points during a 16-week semester. One course received a gamified curriculum, featuring a leaderboard and badges, whereas the other course received the same curriculum without the gamified elements. Our results found that students in the gamified course showed less motivation, satisfaction, and empowerment over time than those in the non-gamified class. The effect of course type on students’ final exam scores was mediated by students’ levels of intrinsic motivation, with students in the gamified course showing less motivation and lower final exam scores than the non-gamified class. This suggests that some care should be taken when applying certain gamification mechanics to educational settings.

Gamification in education: A systematic mapping study., Dicheva, D., Dichev, C., Agre, G., & Angelova, G. (2015). Gamification in education: A systematic mapping study. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 18(3). While gamification is gaining ground in business, marketing, corporate management, and wellness initiatives, its application in education is still an emerging trend. This article presents a study of the published empirical research on the application of gamification to education. The study is limited to papers that discuss explicitly the effects of using game elements in specific educational contexts. It employs a systematic mapping design. Accordingly, a categorical structure for classifying the research results is proposed based on the extracted topics discussed in the reviewed papers. The categories include gamification design principles, game mechanics, context of applying gamification (type of application, educational level, and academic subject), implementation, and evaluation. By mapping the published works to the classification criteria and analyzing them, the study highlights the directions of the currently conducted empirical research on applying gamification to education. It also indicates some major obstacles and needs, such as the need for proper technological support, for controlled studies demonstrating reliable positive or negative results of using specific game elements in particular educational contexts, etc. Although most of the reviewed papers report promising results, more substantial empirical research is needed to determine whether both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation of the learners can be influenced by gamification.

Removing gamification from an enterprise SNS, Thom, J., Millen, D., & DiMicco, J. (2012, February). Removing gamification from an enterprise SNS. In Proceedings of the acm 2012 conference on computer supported cooperative work (pp. 1067-1070). ACM. Gamification, the use of game mechanics in non-gaming applications, has been applied to various systems to encourage desired user behaviors. In this paper, we examine patterns of user activity in an enterprise social network service after the removal of a points-based incentive system. Our results reveal that the removal of the incentive scheme did reduce overall participation via contribution within the SNS. We also describe the strategies by point leaders and observe that users geographically distant from headquarters tended to comment on profiles outside of their home country. Finally, we describe the implications of the removal of extrinsic rewards, such as points and badges, on social software systems, particularly those deployed within an enterprise.

Social Motivations To Use Gamification: An Empirical Study Of Gamifying Exercise., Hamari, J., & Koivisto, J. (2013, June). Social Motivations To Use Gamification: An Empirical Study Of Gamifying Exercise. In ECIS (Vol. 105). This paper investigates how social factors predict attitude towards gamification and intention to continue using gamified services, as well as intention to recommend gamified services to others. The paper employs structural equation modelling for analyses of data (n=107) gathered through a survey that was conducted among users of one of the world’s largest gamification applications for physical exercise called Fitocracy. The results indicate that social factors are strong predictors for attitudes and use intentions towards gamified services.

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