What is Gamification?

Gamification is the craft of deriving all the fun and engaging elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities 

Yu-kai Chou

Yu-kai Chou describes Gamification as “Human-Focussed Design” as opposed to the “Function-Focused Design”. It is a design process that optimizes for the human in the system, as opposed to pure efficiency of the system. 

The reason it is called Gamification is because the gaming industry was the first to master human-focussed design. There are “objectives” in the games, such as killing the dragon or finding the treasure, but those are all excuses to simply keep the player happily entertained inside. Since games have spent decades learning how to master motivation and engagement, we are now learning from games, and this is why we call it Gamification.

​Games have the amazing ability to keep people engaged for a long time, build relationships and trust between people, and develop their creative potentials. Yu-kai Chou’s reasons behind why games drive human behaviour is explored and outlined through the Octalysis Complete Gamification Framework.

Elements of Gamification

The article ‘Can Gamification Help Struggling Students’ outlines the following Gamification elements. These can be used, with or without digital technology, to engage students.

  1. Multiple Lives – no ‘one and done’ for answering questions
  2.  Immediate Feedback – quick validations build confidence and fast corrections help move past errors and learn
  3. Levels for Progress –  forward motion gives motivation to push ahead
  4. Create Flow – A psychological state where the person is fully immersed in the task at hand
  5. Add Quests – feel epic. Reframing a lesson to ‘going on an adventure’

Yu-kai Chou calls these Gamification elements ‘Game Mechanics‘ or ‘Game Design techniques’.
According to Game Mechanics, a game designer needs to:

  • Encourage Discovery: First, make it obvious that the button in meant to be pushed. Humans are naturally curious creatures, but as game designers, we need to explicitly direct them to take certain actions.
  • Encourage Exploration: Second, the designer would put a counter on the front of the machines that lets the user know that their actions are having some impact on the system. The counter provides delightful drips of feedback and it is up to the user to interpret that feedback
  • Provide Tool Mastery: Third, the designer would post a note “Payout: 1,000, coins!” Not all games need explicit winning conditions, but hinting at future utility is a highly useful technique for encourage the player to begin interacting with a particular game mechanic.

Worthwhile Reading & Watching

Gamification vs Game-based Learning http://inservice.ascd.org/the-difference-between-gamification-and-game-based-learning/
6 Killer Examples of Gamification in eLearning https://elearningindustry.com/6-killer-examples-gamification-in-elearning
The Future of Creativity and Innovation is Gamification https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZvRw71Slew
Gaming Can Make a Better World https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world#t-275840