Towards Creating an Open Definition of Gamification

Gamification 2018 Towards Creating an Open Definition of Gamification
Andrzej Marczewski

Andrzej Marczewski

Gamification Consultant with Motivait. I love to write about it, talk about it and bore people to death with it! If you really want to get to know me, check out the About page.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Rob says:

    Love it! Quite similar to what I informally say pretty often. I talk about game strategies more than elements (in my experience it has helped get the point across better) and I’m even more open on the non-entertainment, as I tend to say something like “purposes beyond entertainment” since otherwise it could sound like entertainment is intentionally excluded and, even though it is not the purpose, it is certainly included pretty often.

  2. You know I like definitions, so I can pitch in! 🙂

    I think that this definition is ok. The change from “non-game contexts” to “non-entertainment purposes” might make it easier for people to understand without being so different.

    The addition of play into the definition is also fine because it is done and is useful in practice. Although, I think that it’s important to understand what are games and play, and how they are different, but that they can be combined and used together. The academic literature has been reinforcing the existence of gameful design (designing to create gaming experiences — structured, rule-based play) and playful design (designing to create playing experiences — free-form play). Two recently published articles by Landers et al. touch this point. But since they are often used together, we can then say that “gamification” is something broader that employs both gameful and playful design to achieve its goals.

    What I feel that actually needs more clarification in the community currently is the difference between making (serious) games and gameful systems. I really like your diagram about Game Thinking and its subtypes from an older post. I don’t like when we say we’re doing gamification, but then we present a mix of playful interfaces, (serious) games, simulations, and gameful systems all as the same thing. This happened, for example, in the recent Gamification Awards: although the name had “Gamification” in it, many of the projects presented were actually serious games.

    I understand that in practice, we need to understand the problem and client’s needs and use whatever will be useful to solve their problem. However, to study the different practices and improve them, we need to be able to differentiate them and study each one specifically. Designing a game or a gameful system or a simulation are similar, but not exactly the same, and it’s useful to study what are the similarities and differences, particularly in the academic area. For example, a recent article has suggested that “gamification science” is a subdiscipline of “game science”, with some similarities, but important differences.

    In summary, I feel that the issue we have currently is that many of us say we’re doing “gamification”, when actually what we should be saying is that we’re all doing “game thinking”. This would allow us in practice to continue using games, gameful systems, simulations, or playful interfaces as needed to solve the problem at hand; but at the same time, we can understand that there are these four subtypes of game thinking that we use, so scholars can adequately study them separately.

    Maybe I’ll suggest that the next conference should be “Game Thinking Europe” instead of “Gamification Europe”, and “Game Thinking Awards” instead of “Gamification Awards”!

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