The Gamification Enigma

November 12, 2015 Chris Spann

Everyone loves gamification.  Those interactions that provide even the smallest motivating feelings of accomplishments and goals being met.  It is a topic that remains close to the surface across our industry. Unfortunately ideas can become buzzwords and the oversaturation of usage causes the meaning to become foggy. Yes, everyone is doing it, but does everyone really understand how and why it works?  Let’s decrypt the concept of gamification.

Gamification can be thought of as making a game out of a task or process.

 Let’s look at a basic example:

 

"A mother is teaching her infant to eat from a spoon. Initially this task has no meaning to the child nor any incentive.  Then the mother does something unexpected.  The spoonful of food may become a “train coming into the station” or an “airplane coming in for a landing”.  From the infant's perspective, there is something magical about this spoonful of food.  The child can see the excitement on their mother's face as she moves the spoon around in a circular motion.  Then it happens, the child eats the spoonful of food and “the crowd goes wild”, or simply, the mother gets excited.  This is the reward, this is the motivator. This is gamification at the most rudimentary level."

gamification enigmaGamification adjusts a person’s perspective of the task or process at hand.  The act of taking a common, potentially boring task and shifting the focus to an active goal creates a mindset where common tasks become new experiences.  Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for completing tasks and achieving goals create the overall motivation behind the “gaming” experience.

Human beings have an innate desire to compete. This desire is part of our being.  It can be seen through all ages.  This desire to compete and move forward is the target of gamification.  It is something that exists in everyone and can be leveraged to improve a person's motivation and engagement on tasks that previously thought to be mundane.

This desire to compete and move forward is the target of gamification.

Gamification can turn boring into fun!  It motivates a person to perform their best when fully engaged with “the game”.  One major benefit gamification provides is an indirect method to keep track of progress towards goals and achievements. This tracking can be brought to a public view allowing a person to see how they are performing against their peers.  The whole time, influencing a person's desire to win and their competitive tendencies.

The success of implementing gamification can vary.  Simply gamifying something isn't enough.  In order to create a truly engaging gaming experience,  you must understand what motivates your audience, how your audience perceives the tasks and what specific goals you are wanting to achieve.  There is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but with research and planning you can make the boring fun.

In order to create a truly engaging gaming experience, you must understand what motivates your audience, how your audience perceives the tasks and what specific goals you are wanting to achieve.

 

About the Author

Chris Spann is a Senior Marketing Manager, brand expert, and content contributor at Perks

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