Is it gamification if….?

This is a question I get asked all the time. Is it gamification if x,y or z.  Depending on my mood and their question, I answer a little differently at first but always end the same way. Is it taking something that is not a game and making it more game like in some way? If it is, then you could call it gamification – but you are likely to get people complain one way or the other!

As you may or may not know, I have spent a great deal of time trying to organise my thoughts on this and define gamificaiton, which is how I settled on Game Thinking. This is my umbrella term that covers everything from making interfaces look a little more “gamey”, to making full fledged games.

The reality is we will probably never totally agree all the time on this. A better questions is “Does this solve the problem”, or “Is this the best solution for the users?”. It doesn’t matter if you use gamification or games or ninja monkeys. As a gamifier, you are a problem solver. Your job is to solve an issue the client is having. The likelihood is you will favour a solution with a game like flavour – but I would think that you would not reject a solution just because it is not “proper” gamification.

Never reject an idea or a solution that may be better than yours because you don’t know how to or have the expertise to execute it. If the answer is to create a game, it doesn’t matter if you think that is true gamification – it is still the answer and you should do what you can to facilitate it!

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7 thoughts on “Is it gamification if….?”

  1. Do you think that there is a concept of canonical gamification? Specificly as it applies to education? Is there simple game archetypes that need to be applied in order to achieve an optimized result? Or potentially is there a layered canonical approach that might be relevant. It seems important to distill to what is practical to implement in the broadest sense, in order to promote generation of inter-operable gamified content. Rather than view gamification as game concepts that can be implemented in siloed experiences that don’t talk to each other.

    Despite the issues with the xbox achievement system its strength seems to be the unified reporting and social comparison mechanisms. Without which you would have to open an individual game to see what marks you had received.

    Does your book address this topic? What are you thoughts?

  2. Pingback: Don't limit your thinking of Gamification | Gamify Zone
  3. Very glad you posted this, Andrzej! I’m submitting a book chapter to a gamification research handbook and actually decided on the use of the term “game-thinking” as well! I specified game-thinking as consisting of both gamification and serious games, with game-inspired design following more in line with my chosen definition of gamification (game elements in non-game context, so narrative or aesthetics would fall into that category). I did not include play for this chapter, as it is specific to human resource management, and so far no HRM interventions revolve solely around play. I’ll definitely be adding your classification in as a citation for this handbook chapter, so thank you very much! Hope all is well with you.


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