ProfileUnderstanding Gamification

If you’re confused about gamification: what it is, if it works, how it works, and how much is hype, you’re not alone. Everyone else, including the people who make gamification platforms, is just as confused. Even – or perhaps especially – if they don’t think that they are.

There isn’t one kind of gamification, there are many kinds:

  • Straight gamification: Points, badges, leaderboards, and missions (PBLM) with metrics added to a company process
  • Play gamification: Play elements added to a company process, using PBLM to measure the metrics
  • Gameful design: Either of the above added to a personal goal, in order to motivate yourself; or providing a means to do so
  • Playification: Motivational play elements added to a process, with or without PBLM or metrics
  • Serious games: A game wrapped around a political or moral message
  • Game-based learning: Playified education
  • and many others

Today’s gamification companies pick the definition that their product fits and tell you that it will fit your needs. This is the “I built a hammer, so you’ve got a nail” philosophy. That’s not how it works. There is no perfect methodology, because what you need depends on what you want to accomplish. People everywhere are different; what motivates me doesn’t motivate you. What motivates me today doesn’t motivate me tomorrow.

You need an approach that is flexible and diverse.

Gamification Systems are Unnecessarily Boring

I’ve worked with hundreds of themes and thousands of game mechanics. Why does every gamification system rely on the same half-dozen mechanisms: one track with points, badges, leaderboards, and missions, and maybe trophies and a reputation system?

The best game holds players’ attentions for a half a year, a year at best. Games must provide ever-increasing challenges; today’s gamification systems provide essentially the same experience during week 1 as they do during week 52.

As an experienced game designer, I add new dimensions to gamification that continuously engage customers and employees, from before they play, through the onboarding process, through the habit-forming stage, and into the mastery and flow that comes after years of play. My games provide new options that don’t exist in today’s systems, providing autonomy, an essential element in motivation and enjoyment. My games change over time, providing important ramp up to continuously provide the optimal flow experience.

With a player-centered focus, I ensure that players are constantly motivated to play more, leveraging the core elements of motivation: autonomy, mastery, purpose, ownership, discovery, interaction, and so forth. I create games that don’t simply make people happy; they make people better.