Gamification: Adding the unusual to the usual to create benefit.

Good day and all. Today I am merely rambling to try to either prove or disprove an idea I have.

I was thinking about short definitions for Gamification – outside of the usual

Add game mechanics to non game tasks

The more I look at Gamification, the more unsatisfied I am with that description. There is so much more to Gamification.

I have written in length about that side of Gamification. The use of extrinsic rewards, badges, leaderboards, social elements etc. The more I look, the more I realise how much more we are trying to capture under that one wading of Gamification.

Badgeville talk about Game Mechanics, Reputation Mechanics and Social Mechanics. Mark Sorell spoke at length with GSummitX about behavioural economics. I have recently been banging on about Introduce, engage, retain.

It seems we are all trying to nail what Gamification really is, which to me means we need to find a better definition.

This probably isn’t it, but I like it for now.

Adding the unusual to the usual to create benefit.

For example, taking badges. These are not a normal part of any work or even fitness environment. They are unusual to that ecosystem. Used in the correct way with other unusual elements, they can create some benefit. (dangerous example, but easy to explain).

Typing of the dead. Take a game, swap the gun for typing and you have a gamified learning experience. You took the usual (the game), added the unusual (typing) and created benefit (learning how to type in a fun way).

Real time feedback at work. In our jobs we get feed back in several ways. We get immediate feedback for work we have done and we get the traditional annual review. Only the annual review counts towards anything and with it you usually have to show some of the feedback you had in the year. There is now a lot of noise being made about real-time feedback. This is something that gamers are used to. Shoot something and you get an animation and a score. Imagine waiting a year before you saw that. The game would not sell well. So again, taking the usual – annual review and adding the unusual – real-time feedback. The benefit is a more rounded and immediate look at performance.

This is just merely a thought, but I would love some comments from you all. Think of something you have done or seen that is referred to as Gamification. Then look and see if the concept of adding the unusual to the usual to create benefit describes the gamified aspects.

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8 thoughts on “Gamification: Adding the unusual to the usual to create benefit.”

  1. If someone talks about a game that fascinates him he doesn’t talk about the +200 Xpoints he got because he found a virtual good and he is also not talking about how amazing it was to build a new house on his street while playing Monopoly.
    But he is talking about the challenges that are hard to overcome. He talks about his efforts and try & errors till he finally got the solution. He is talking about the story, missions and challenges that he is facing.
    And talking about all these happenings, what he really means is how the game challenged him, made him progressing, learning and get better than he was before. And this means: He experienced some kind of fulfillment.

    And I’m not talking about a little: “yeah, I’ve got it”. I’m talking about a rush of dopamin that is being released inside your brain. And that’s nothing particular just for gamers. Play is nature’s learning engine. It was an evolutionary process that these species that were able to learn (means to adapt to changes in their environment) faster than others were better prepared to survive. Therefore, evolution had to come up with a tool that rewards us for doing great in the sense of surviving…that is to say: learning.
    So, think about it: You love to get things done. You love to achieve benefit from your activities. You love to get smarter. And you love it to be involved in an activity that challenges you entirely.
    Remember the last time you lost track of time? There it was… an activity that needed all your focus, right? And did you like it? I bet you can’t remember any time that you lost track of time while doing something you didn’t like. “Wow, five hours? It felt like one.”
    But the fact is that most people are very enthusiastic about all sorts of games and things in their lives yet go to work with no sense of enthusiasm or fun. Why is this?
    A Game provides us for example with immediate feedback and the perfect ratio between the challenges we are facing and the skills of its player. They make it possible for us to achieve the state of “Flow” (one of the most intrinsic rewarding mental state a human is able achieve).
    Games are able to do this by design. And I’m not talking about graphic-design.

    The idea of Gamification is to use what we know about motivational- and behavioral-psychology and to merge it with the powerful tool of Games: creating opportunities for mastering (progress), immerdiate feedback, meaningful choices and some kind of meaning (collaboration for a something epic).

    So, Gamification is a framework that uses similar elements like games to let us experience the most powerful emotions we know about (besides love) : Fulfillment and enjoyment.

    We are hardwired to this emotions. It is build into our DNA. So, why not use gamification-thinking to ‘fix’ the activities in reality that aren’t able to give us what we want. If the gaming industry can do it – we can do it. 🙂

  2. I was looking up Typing of the Dead as an example of Gamification and found this post, I like your soundbite for the description of gamification, I had a hard time defining it myself but I generally like to consider it as “capturing the essence of fun”.


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