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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Balsters

The Rise of Gamification

“What a wicked game you play, to make me feel this way...” Wicked Game by Chris Isaak

You may have noticed a trend in the app world over the last few years. Apps about everything from Health & Fitness, to Well-being, to Productivity are feeling more like games. They all seem to have levels, streaks, badges, and leaderboards. A lot of these apps even have their own economies where points can be exchanged for features. This is all part of a growing trend called Gamification.

What is Gamification?

Gamification broadly refers to the process of turning tasks into games. Now the idea of turning a task into a game is nothing new. Parents have been tricking children into doing their chores using Gamification for some time. In fact, a number of games were developed with ulterior motives, for example, it’s been suggested that Chess was originally a tool to practise and develop battle strategies. However, the breadth of tools that have now utilised Gamification is actually quite staggering.

Gamification Taxonomy from Toda et al (2019)
Gamification Taxonomy from Toda et al (2019)

The image above from Toda et al (2019) shows how many ways there are to gamify a task. The simplest way to gamify a task is to use external/performance motivators, i.e. points and badges (purple segment). You can also let players compare points and produce leaderboards, adding a social dimension to any task (yellow/green segment). Finally, you can make the task intrinsically fun and rewarding through beautiful graphics and stories (personal & fictional dimensions).

If you want to know more about how to use gamification (i.e. through a selection of case studies), get up-to-date with the literature regarding its efficacy, or the my opinions on some crucial questions like:

  • Does Gamification Improve Behavioral Science?

  • Will Gamification Influence My Findings?

  • What's the difference between Gamification vs Games in Research?

I'd recommend reading my recent article in the Behavioural Economics Guide 2021 where I discuss all these issues and more.

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