The Language of Gamification – Short Glossary [Updated]

As I rewrite my book, I realise that there are many terms that I have been using that may not be known to non-gamification people. When I started writing it was with the intention of using plain language. Sadly, that is not always possible. So I have started to build a little glossary of terms as I use them. This is my interpretation of the words or phrases and is by no means complete. I will add to it over time I’m sure!

  • Game Thinking: The use of game related design methods and ideas (eg gamification, serious games) to create solutions.
  • Gamification:
  • Serious Game: a real game that is built primarily for purposes other than pure entertainment.
  • (Game) Mechanics: explicit sets of rules that define the outcomes of user activities.
  • (Game) Dynamics: emergent activities of the users as they interact with mechanics.
  • (Game) Aesthetics: the experience of the end user.
  • Game Elements / Components: these are bits that are taken from games, such as progress bars, missions, points, badges etc.
  • Player: also called the user, the target person who will be using the gamified system.
  • Intrinsic (motivation): Personal / internal reasons to do something. Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are examples of this.
    • Relatedness: social connection to others.
    • Autonomy: freedom / agency to act as you wish.
    • Mastery: achieving something such as learning a new skill.
    • Purpose: three variations.
      • A sense of direction, such as goals or story lines / narratives.
      • feeling that you are involved in something with greater meaning (Epic Meaning).
      • Altruism (selfless acts for the benefit of others).
  • Extrinsic (reward): Something that is external, such as monetary rewards for doing something.
  • Fiero: An Italian word that is used in gamification to describe a sense of great achievement or triumph over adversity – the sort that has you fist pumping in the air!
  • Naches: A Yiddish word that means “feeling of pride at the achievement of your children”. In gamification we use this word to describe the feeling people get when people achieve something thanks to the help they have given them.
  • Flow: A concept described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In gamification we talk about it as a place between boredom and frustration where the skills of the player match the level of challenge. They lose all sense of self and time seems to go by much faster.
  • Player Journey: Taken from Amy Jo Kim, the player journey consists of On-Boarding, Habit Building and finally Mastery
    • On-Boarding refers to the first steps taken in a new system, for example an interactive tutorial.
    • Habit building is the phase where a user / player is using the system and getting better and better
    • Mastery, sometimes referred to as End Game, is where the user / player has mastered to system and is probably looking for the next challenge.
  • Engagement: Active and Intrinsically motivated participation
  • Loyalty: Allegiance to something, for example a brand, that goes beyond normal interest. People loyal to a brand will go out of their way, ignoring value and convenience to own products from that brand.

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17 thoughts on “The Language of Gamification – Short Glossary [Updated]”

  1. Pingback: The language of Gamification
  2. Nice. The word “engagement” should probably be in the glossary as well. It’s almost impossible to hear about gamification without being promised, over and over, that gamification increases engagement.

    Since engagement is a buzzword and rarely defined, we generally nod our heads, saying, “Hmm that’s good,” without really knowing what it means or what difference it makes.

    Maybe a definition in the glossary would begin to de-buzz the word.

  3. Excellent list! I agree with the meaning of all the terms (I just didn’t know “naches”, but makes sense). Good work!


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