Gamification Is

Gamification Is

Leif Marcusson (Linnaeus University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1970-7.ch002

Abstract

Gamification is the use of game mechanics in non-game situations for the players' / users' own goals by strengthening their intrinsic motivation. Game mechanics can for example be pins, badges, avatars, and leveling. The expression gamification was created in 2002 and is still in use although it has always been a problematic term. There are many models, methods, and tools to choose between when creating gamified applications. But regardless of which choice is made, the player / user must be in the center and knowledge about him/her used. A gamified application must in principle be digital and give instant feedback and reward. The effects of tiredness are particularly interesting since they limit the possibilities of gamification and would be of interest to investigate more.
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Definition

Almost every article, paper, and report about gamification starts with almost the same definition. Gamification is the use of game mechanics in a non-game situation / context (e.g. Burke, 2014; Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011; Werbach & Hunter, 2012). Game mechanics (Kumar & Herger, 2015) might for example include points / pins, badges, leaderboards, relationships, challenge with epic meaning, constraints with urgent optimism, journey, narrative, and emotion. Gamification is not simply a matter of rewards (e.g. pins and badges) or loyalty (e.g. the tenth cup of coffee for free) there must be something more, if standalone it is reward or loyalty, nothing else. Gamification is also about intrinsic motivation, supporting the player / user to achieve their own goals, and creating new habits (e.g. Burke, 2014). Gamification is inherently digital since it has evolved from video and computer games (e.g. Burke, 2014; Malone, 1981). Gamification can be seen as an important tool when working with motivating and inspiring users to action (Raycove, 2016). In 1944 Johan Huizinga wrote that humans are hooked on excitement and joy, i.e. to be a homo ludens (the playing man), and this is one piece of the gamification puzzle (Huizinga, 2016).

The word gamification sometimes provokes people since it implies a trivialization of work on the grounds that work should not be simply a game. Some express skepticism towards the conception of gamification: Is gamification really something new or is it not simply a fad or trend? Spencer (2013, p. 59) pinpoints that: “done poorly or without thought, gamification can promote selfish and competitive behavior /…/ and overdone, it may distract from the real business purpose”. A comparison between game and work (table 1) is of interest for the understanding of gamification.

Table 1.
Comparison of the attributes of game and work (Kumar & Herger, 2015, p. 27)
GameWork
Tasksrepetitive, but funrepetitive and dull
Feedbackconstantlyonce a year
Goalsclearcontradictory, vague
Path to Masteryclearunclear
Rolesclear, transparentunclear, nontransparent
Informationright amount at the right timenot the right amount and delivered at the wrong time
Failureexpected, encouraged, spectacular, brag about itforbidden, punished, don’t talk about it
Status for Userstransparent, timelyhidden
Promotionmeritocracykiss-up-o-cracy
Collaborationyesmaybe
Speed/Riskhighlow
Autonomyhighmid to low
Narrativeyesonly if you are lucky
Obstaclesintentionalaccidental

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