Gamification: the what, the why and the how

Gamification: Using game design in non-game contexts in order to make it more fun, effective or engaging.

What is gamification?

There are many opinions and definitions about what constitutes gamification. 

At Playify, we choose to keep it broad and inclusive. Anytime you are getting a bit playful and gathering inspiration from games when trying to influence someone else's behavior or creating a joyful experience for them - your are gamifying. Simple as that. 

It could be something as little as surprising your customer with a pop-up congratulatory message. Or something as complex as designing an entire corporate community platform with built-in points systems and reward ladders. 

Gamification doesn't even have to be digital. It could just as well be that coffee stamp card you get from your local café, or the leaderboard on your fridge keeping track of your family members' household efforts.

The gamification mindset is built into us humans and have been for millennia. We are playful creatures, drawn to playful experiences.

Why gamify?

There are many reasons! Some of the most common:

– create strong, lasting engagement and loyalty

– generate buzz and positive exposure for a brand

– evoke emotion and change opinions

– change behaviors within an organization or target audience

In fact, a more relevant question would be “why not gamify?” What activity could not benefit from being better in tune with our own psychology?


Some examples of when you should consider gamification

  • When planning a marketing campaign in social media
  • When designing an app or a game
  • When planning a course or lecture
  • When you want to increase productivity, team spirit and satisfaction at work
  • When planning an event, conference or kick-off.
  • When you want to reach personal goals, such as learning a new language, recovering from illness or improving your performance in a sport.

How do you gamify something?

Games are complex systems, as are people. So no gamified solution could ever be simple.

There is no one-size-fits-all within gamification. There is no one solution that is applicable to all similar circumstances. Most of the failed attempts at gamification are due to this kind of over-simplification of the concept of game design and a misunderstanding of how games create engagement.

This is the problem that Playify wants to solve, by taking into account the many factors and decisions that must go into a gamified concept: who will use the product or service, what are their needs and preferences, what is the underlying purpose of the project and where can all these aspects come together in a way that benefits both the user and other stakeholders.

keep this in mind...

  • Think “gamified” from the very beginning! It’s hard, (if not impossible), to jump into the middle or end of a project and “apply gamification”. The gamified mindset must be there along the way to influence decisions and design.
  • Gamifying something does not have to result in the activity turning into a game, or getting a “playful” feel to it. Gamification means borrowing elements from games, or just being inspired by the way games create engagement. You could do this is way that is very subtle, but effective even in the most serious of contexts.
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate. Don’t overthink things, get stuck on details or try to nail the solution from the start. You can’t. Work with hypotheses, test them and iterate until you find what works and what doesn’t.

Ready to take the next step?

A good place to start when curious about gamification and engagement design is a lecture + workshop. We tailor our workshops to fit your needs and your industry, and lead you through a Playify workshop where we'll brainstorm ways for your business to utilize gamification. 

Or, if you're more of a DIY:er: try your hand at some gamification workshopping yourself... The Playify workshop tool is designed for this very purpose: play around with the cards, collaborate, experiment and flesh out a gamified concept of your own. 

Order Playify here →

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