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...

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...

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...

Put up or Shut up and stop moaning about gamification.

So, for my final post of the week (as I seem to have subconsciously challenged myself to blog all week), I want to throw a curve ball out there. If I am honest it is a brain dump and a rant. So strap in and enjoy the ride. I have talked about gamification being a benign form of manipulation in the past.  I don’t think anyone within gamification who has any sense will disagree, gamification is manipulative. It is manipulative in the same way as marketing, or parenting. It is manipulative in the same way that society manipulates you on a day to day basis to go to work every day. Our society has been built on the idea that we should all be doing something. For some that is moving paper around. For others it is making the moving of paper more efficient.  For very few people is it anything truly meaningful. If we are honest, very few jobs are meaningful. We are not all doctors or nurses or fire-fighters or teachers etc. We work to pay tax, to buy food and because that is what we... 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...

Points and Badges in Gamification – Not totally evil.

Over the last few days, the conversation about the use of points and badges has come up several times with several different people. The stock answer in gamification these days is that points and badges are bad gamification. They are meaningless and we should be looking at intrinsic motivation more - yet almost every implementation you see of gamification will have some form of points system and probably badges.  They may be called experience points and achievements, or gami-dollars and pictograms - who knows - but they still seem to be there. We, as gamifiers, understand why these things can be bad for motivation. We all swear by the work of Deci and Ryan on Self Determination Theory. We quote Dan Pinks Drive like students used to quote Star Wars.Most of us have given Over-justification Effect a large amount of consideration. All of these things say that extrinsic rewards can reduce intrinsic motivation. So why are points and badges still in use? One reason is what types... Read the full article...

Gamify your drive home

One of the day to day activities that I gamify in my life, is driving. More specifically, driving economically. Best of all, you don't need to have some expensive gamified car (like the leaf) or any apps. My car, like most now, has an on-board computer. I have this set to always show me my current miles per gallon (MPG). The game that I play with myself revolves around keeping the MPG number as high as possible. I do this by basically driving sensibly. Not having the air-con on all the time, being in the right gear etc. It is a very simple bit of gamification that revolves around two basic mechanics. Feedback and reward. What I realised recently is why I am doing this and how it flies in much of what I talk about with gamification. I do it to save money. Pure and simple and totally extrinsic (on the surface of it at least).  If I drive efficiently, I save petrol and in turn save money! I could kid myself into thinking that driving efficiently will save the planet and key... Read the full article...

Gamification Inspiration Cards

Introduction About the cards | Want to buy a deck? | More ways to play Introduction I don’t know what it is, but I love cards.  I think it stems from my parents, who were avid Bridge players. We always had several decks Bridge cards lying around. I like how they feel in your hand, how they smell, how they sound as you shuffle them. When I first discovered that people had been producing sets of cards for everything from project management to game design and of course gamification, I was a happy man! I own several of these kinds of decks now and love them all. However, as I was developing my own theories, especially my User Types, I found the decks I had a little less useful to me. So, rather than trying to bend them to my needs, I decided to create my own – the Gamification Inspiration Cards. About the cards These cards are designed to help inspire ideas and build new and interesting gamified solutions. They have been developed to work hand in hand with my... Read the full article...

Top 10 Posts and Pages from 2013

Happy 2014 everyone! Just a quick post to show you all what the top 10 pages and articles have been on my blog in the past 12 months. It fills me with joy just how popular the User Types have been! Marczewski's User Types Marczewski's User Types and Nicole Lazzaro's 4 Keys 2 Fun Game Mechanics and Gamification The Differences between Gamification and Games My Gamification Framework The Effect of Time on Decision Making Supporting Marczewski's User Types Gamification in the Wild - Examples and Case Studies Extrinsically and Intrinsically Motivated User Types Game Thinking - Breaking it Down I'm looking forward to exploring the types more this year, but also getting some more facts and figures behind them (probably...). My wishes for this year are to get more involved in the practical side of gamification, working closer with the industry as a whole. Doing more talks (UK, get your act together and start doing more gamification events - I am really... Read the full article...

Gamification: Quests, Objectives, Goals and more

One of the great things about games is how they handle objectives. Very rarely will you play a game these days that sets out one huge objective and just leaves you to it, they all break the main objective into sub-objectives.  You tend to have an overall story line or a quest. This is then broken down into levels, missions or sub-quests, these are then further broken down into objectives, goals or tasks. One of the main reasons for this, is that it is much easier for us to manage short term goals than long term goals. This can be attributed to things like how we process data, how our memories work, how we handle decisions etc. The further away a decision is, the more abstract it is to us (according to Construal Level Theory), the closer it is the more concrete.  What this means to us here is that long term goals or objectives are hard for us to focus on properly, they seem to abstract, unreal.  Short term goals are closer to the now and so feel more real and more importantly... Read the full article...