What is Gamification and Why it Works


Ever used Foursquare for exploring nearby places or posting reviews or grabbing the mayorship of some place? If yes, then you are already gamified!

Gamification, a term coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling, means using games and game thinking or mechanics in a non-game context to engage users and help them explore, learn as well as solve their problems.

In simple words, it’s a fun way to engage. Many companies are increasingly using this technique to engage with their customers and create brand awareness.

Gamification complements technology with psychology and leverages a user’s natural desires like competition, achievement, social recognition etc., to create a positive experience.

The 4 pillars of Gamification

Repetitive feedbackMore the feedback, More the engagement! Gamifiying activities encourage the users to give more and more feedback by rewarding them with points or badges. This feedback can be anything: reviews, posts and in some cases, valuable data that can help generate leads.

Clear goals and rules – Gamification defines the tasks clearly and the rules that a user needs to follow. These rules are simple, easy to understand and without any ‘conditions apply’ disclaimers, in order to generate a positive feedback.

An absorbing narration – Gamification uses the art of storytelling to engross the user. The story has a beginning and the user joins somewhere in between and unknowingly, becomes a part of it. Therefore, the user participates and tries to complete the story i.e. the activity.

Challenging yet easy tasks – People love to compete, especially, in cases where the task is challenging yet easily achievable. Therefore, companies design their gamifying activities keeping in mind this factor and keep on adding such tasks in order to keep the sustain the engagement.

These tasks are well-planned and are given a game-like feel to make it fun and approachable. Different aspects are added to the activity like vivid colours, easy interface, interesting tasks, social media integration to keep the user engrossed and involved.

Gamification focusses on rewarding its users for doing certain tasks. These rewards could be anything, like points (in some case, bonus points), badges, titles (Mayorship) etc. And these scores or points are visible to other users, like a leaderboard, to encourage them to achieve more.

Gamification can be used for various purposes: Loyalty programs, encouraging a desirable behaviour, collecting data, generating leads, brand awareness, public relations, educational activities and even, training!

Starbucks, in 2010, gave custom Foursquare badges to consumers who checked in at multiple Starbucks outlets and offered discount to those who became mayors of an individual store. Many restaurants and pubs do follow the same strategy to excite the customer.

Education and training are areas where this technique can be explored in unlimited ways. During our childhood, tales from Panchtantra or Ramayana were used to impart certain values into us because they use to generate interest. Similarly, gamification is another platform which helps communicate in a simple yet interesting manner.

One good example would be Microsoft, which released the game ‘Ribbon Hero 2’ as an add-on to their Office Suite to help people use it effectively. And if reports are to be believed, it’s doing its job very well!

In short, Gamification is here to stay. With marketers and advertisers exploring more and more innovative ways to reach out to their target audience, gamification is one thing which they can’t ignore for sure!


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