[Updated] What gamification is to me – My definition

Updated September 2015!

As you know, over the weekend I picked a fight with Gartner over their redefinition of gamification.http://blogs.gartner.com/brian_burke/2014/04/04/gartner-redefines-gamification/ and https://gamified.uk/2014/04/05/a-response-to-gartners-new-definition-of-gamification/

The conversation turned to a bit of a bun fight, so I have now stepped away a little. However, it got me thinking about my own definition and why I use it and what gamification in general means to me.


However, I have decided to change it a little, to give it more scope and with luck make the aims clearer.

The use of game design metaphors to create more game-like and engaging experiences

So what does this all mean to me.


Game Design Metaphors

Many definitions talk about non game contexts. I talk about metaphors. We use game like interface design in applications that are not games. We use game like narratives, in applications that are not games. We use the game equivalent as a metaphor – we using these things in ways that are not literally applicable as games.


Gamification is a very specific approach that does not actually involve creating games, it is about using ideas from the games, elements and more.

Engaging Experiences

This is the key to gamification, engagement. I define engagement as Active and intrinsically motivated participation. So with gamification we are trying to create experiences that promote this.


This is core to my understanding and approach to gamification. It is one tool in a tool-kit designed to solve problems.

Now, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. My definition is not really different from any other out there, I just like this wording. I find that this way I am not limiting myself to any technology or approach. Bits of paper or digital platforms are all fair game for me.  I am also not interfering with my own ideas on where serious games fit into the equation.


I am sure over time, the way I describe gamification to people will change. However, the core aspect will not. It is an approach to problem solving. It is not defined by the platform or the trends that may enable it.


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