Defining gamification – what do people really think?

As many of you know, I recently took exception to a particular definition of gamification that was doing the rounds. However, the positive effect was to make me think about what it really means and also started to make me wonder what other people think of it.  So, I asked them - I did a little research... The results were interesting. I gathered 30 different definitions, some from industry experts and others from people with an interest.  They are all listed at the end, but I thought I would share a few thoughts from them. The first thing that caught my eye was there are two distinct streams of thinking. The first is the idea of adding gaming elements or ideas to things that are not games. The other is to make things that are not games more like games. Similar, but slightly different concepts. I love that so many made mention of "people" or "users / players", showing that we agree that gamification is a people centric way of designing engaging experiences. Fun came up... Read the full article...

A few gamification tips

Whilst I am away for a few days, I though I would fill the gap with a quick post for you all. A few gamification tips. Define your goal, you can't expect anything to work if you have no reason to use it. Extrinsic rewards like points and badges are useful for short term engagement only. They do not make a fully gamified system. Intrinsic motivation is what you are aiming for. Consider RAMP (Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose). Find out what the user wants and design around that. Sure, you have goals, but the user won't buy into it unless if satisfies their needs in some way. You can't force fun. What you think will be fun, many will find insulting, patronising or down right enraging. Gamification is not a magic bullet. You may see sudden increases in activity, but overall you will get small percentage increases. This is good as it is better than what you had! Measure. If you don't measure, you can't report back on ROI and you will not be able to prove it... Read the full article...

Why am I interested in Gamification?

This is a question many ask me - including myself! The answer is complicated I suppose, but worth mentioning here. Many feel that gamification is nothing more than an invention of consultants hell bent on making money from corporations who want to control their employees. In some instances this may even be true! The fact is, I got involved because of a love of games that goes back over thirty years. I have always loved games, playing them , creating them and learning from them. One of my earliest memories of gaming was my father creating me a maths games. It was very simple, on an early Spectrum. All it did was ask you maths questions and you had to answer. It would congratulate you and I seem to remember there was some graphic representation of your success. Games engage people in ways that other media can't for many reasons, not least because they put you at the centre of the experience. Now, gamification is not the same as games, this is something I think we all... Read the full article...

What gamification is to me – My definition

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 http://marczewski.me.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. My definition has most commonly been; “the application of gaming metaphors to real life tasks to influence behaviour, improve motivation and enhance engagement.” I originally used to use Game Mechanics instead of metaphors and for a time used Game Thinking - until I started using that as an umbrella term! 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 elements and design metaphors to solve problems” So what does this all... Read the full article...

Competitive Silos or Collaborative Success

One of the most popular uses of enterprise gamification is to create competition. I don't mean in the form of marketing campaigns, I am talking about internal competitions between employees. Sales leader-boards, fitness competitions, who is best at social etc. The idea is to drive employees to want to be better than the others. Being at the bottom of the leader-board should motivate me to want to work my way to the top - I should want to win. Whilst this is true in certain environments, it can be rather limiting in others. Take an imaginary scenario.  You have decided that to improve the performance and time keeping of your bus drivers, you have put them into a competitive leader-board. Due to traffic delays, the 512 has ended up with two buses running in convey. The bus that is running a little late does not want to have their score affected, so keeps trying to overtake the other bus. Because the other bus does not want to lose position on the leader-board, they don't... Read the full article...

A response to Gartner’s new definition of gamification

On April the 4th, Brian Burke, via his blog announced that Gartner had changed its definition of gamification. It would be; “the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals” http://blogs.gartner.com/brian_burke/2014/04/04/gartner-redefines-gamification/ At first I chuckled. This was very similar to the definition I use in my book; “the application of gaming metaphors to real life tasks to influence behaviour, improve motivation and enhance engagement.” However, the smile faded as I reread it. I could forgive the misguided use of the phrase Game Mechanics. I have come to terms with the fact this will always be misused by certain sectors of gamification, but it was the word digital that suddenly struck me and made me read it a third time. As I read the reasons behind the definition, my heart sank. First was the game mechanics explanation. Game mechanics describes the use of elements such as points,... Read the full article...

Winning isn’t everything – demotivating by allowing a win state

Most people like to win. There is something deep down inside all of us who love to be the winner, to experience the rush that comes with beating something. It may be a game, it may be winning at sport, it may be collecting all the Pokemon. Whatever it is, you get a huge feeling of achievement - Fiero. The trouble is, winning is short lived. Once you have won, what happens next? In sport winning is just one part of playing the sport. One win is great, but you still need to train and train so that you can win again. Very few people can say that there is nothing left to attain in their chosen sport. In video games there is something similar. Winning a match in Call of Duty is great, but you could always be better next time. Win faster, win by more points, win in a more stylish way - there is always something left to master. An example from my own experience, getting your Black Belt in a martial art. Contrary to being the end of your journey to mastery the art, it is really... Read the full article...

Gamification and Habits

I will state now, I am not claiming to be an expert on habits, however - I wanted to share some thoughts on how gamification can help with habit building. There are several habit or behaviour models out there. My two favourites are Nir Eyal's Hook model and BJ Fogg's Behaviour Model. For the sake of this blog, I am concentrating on the Fogg model, I personally have a better understanding of this one. I am reading Nir's book at the moment so expect me to expand on this concept soon! Fogg states that there are three things that need to fall in to perfect alignment for behaviours and habits to change; Ability, Motivation and Triggers. As you can see from the graph, things that are hard to do need greater levels motivation to do them, whilst things that we are not motivated to do in some way need to be easier to do. Either way, you need triggers at the right time to actually do them in the first place. Let's take an example of time sheeting system. Very often these... Read the full article...

Challenge the Rut

So, two weeks and I have maintained a blog per working day. Yay me. The question is, why? Why have I suddenly gone from one blog per week to one per day. I don't need the coverage or the readers - they have all been more than happy with one per week. I certainly don't need the extra work or hassle that comes with generating more interesting (ish) content. The reason was to challenge myself and push myself out of a rut I was in with my blogging. For about 3 years I have posted one blog per week, usually on a Monday. This was normally a well thought out piece of writing that was either an expression of a new idea I had had or something that I felt would be of interest and use to my readers. However, the routine was beginning to kill the creativity. I was binning ideas because it was the wrong day for them or because new ones were taking their place too fast.I was too set on this idea of one per week. So I set my challenge. Allow all those ideas out as and when they come to... Read the full article...

Points & Badges Video Tutorial

The fourth video in my series of tutorials (finally!!) This one is just a short (10 minute) look at points and badges in gamified systems and how to make some use of them. Not all that different from my Points and Badges: Not Totally Evil blog post, but also talks about balancing and best use case. Enjoy! Read the full article...

Mechanics and ideas to support your gamified systems

A slightly cheating post today. Here are the mechanics and ideas that I have been using when supporting certain user types. I wanted to present them in a non usertype specific way. So instead of Player, here you see "Short term engagement, Activity". This should help people see a little more clearly how to support different gamified activities. The smaller / fainter the mechanic or idea, the less impact it has. Click one of the links to jump straight to the activity. Education | Innovation, Change | Creativity, Invention | Contribution, Help | Short term engagement, Activity | Collaboration Education, New Skills (Achiever) Challenges Challenges help keep people interested, testing their knowledge and allowing them to apply it. Overcoming challenges will make people feel they have earned their achievement. Certificates Different from general rewards and trophies, certificates are a physical symbol of mastery and achievement. They carry meaning, status... Read the full article...

Gamification Design vs Game Design

Yesterday I posted a tweet that got a few nice retweets. Is there a middle ground where game designers and #gamification designers can meet and create amazing things? Surely yes! — Andrzej Marczewski (@daverage) March 24, 2014 It is no secret that I would love to get the games industry to become more involved in gamification and have spoken to many people in the industry about it. Ian Bogost refereed to my original plea as a "gentle form of terrorism" saying that  it was like me saying to the games industry If you don't like me crapping on your shoes, then teach me how to use the toilet. However, generally there is a feeling that there is a middle ground, but that it may be too hard to find for it to be beneficial to anyone. This got me to thinking why? Then it hit me, it is all in the purpose of design. I know this should have been obvious, but I can be slow at times. As well as designing gamified concepts, I also dabble in game design. My wildly popular game Cops... Read the full article...

Gamification: Low tech real-time feedback

Using gamification on my kids is nothing new. I have openly written about my failure as a gamifier when it came to my eldest daughters reward chart!  However, now I am trying a little experiment, one that is nice and low tech and involved no points or badges! On our fridge we now have this little chart. Throughout the day my wife and I alter the position of the arrow depending on how my daughter is behaving. We don't tell her what the current reading is - she has to look at the feedback for herself. Of course this is on top of other verbal feedback we are giving her as well. However, this gives her a fixed reminder of how we feel she is doing. At the moment there are a couple of things that we do with her if she is not doing well (before we had the chart). She loses her TV shows and the DS for example. It is also her birthday soon, so her party is forfeit at present due to a few little bumps in her behavioural road.  So, we have told her that if she gets to 7, she gets... Read the full article...

Rules, magic circles and other ways to avoid misfortune

A while back I wrote a piece called Rules Rule, but Shouldn't Rule Everything. The upshot of the article was that you have to have rules for things to work, but you also have to understand the rules to be able to bend and break them when needed. Rules are really important in gamified systems, they collapse without them.  Some rules are explicit and set by the system. These are the ones that you can't break without hacking or breaking the system. Others are implicit or implied. These are the ones where trouble can sneak in. When you play a game, you are entering into it knowing it is a game and that the point of it is to have fun. You agree to enter what is know as the Magic Circle. This is a kind of informal barrier between the real world and the virtual one that they are now inhabiting. It is an understanding that they are not the same and that you have voluntarily chosen to be immersed within the rules of the virtual world. Within gamification, it is sometimes... Read the full article...

First considerations of Gamification

On thing I am asked more than any question when it comes to gamification, is how do I get started. What is the first thing I should do. The answer they are hoping for normally is something like "Download this great framework and slap it on your product - job done". However, this is never my answer (though at times, if it is suitable for their needs it will be part of the answer... but that's another story!). What I actually say is "Decide WHY you need gamification and WHAT you are actually using it for / on". That should be the first days of discussion. Too many times you see gamification applied just because it can be applied. Once you have that down, then the rest will start to fall into place. Get an understanding of who will be involved, design your system around those user types and the program goals and you are well on the way to building a good solution. Take a look at my simple framework to get an idea of what questions to ask yourself as you begin to look at... Read the full article...