What is Gamification and Why is it Important?

In this day and age, you’ve probably had a hard time avoiding conversations about ‘gamification’, whether you understood what it meant or not. Since the world’s creation by programmer Nick Pelling in 2002, gamification has grown to be one of the most popular buzzwords of the 21st century, and more and more businesses in 2021 are starting to prioritize gamifying different aspects of their work.

But what actually is gamification and why does it matter?

In this article, we’re breaking down gamification, going over what it is, why it’s important, and what examples of it exist in the real world.

So… What is Gamification?

The issue with the term gamification is that it conjures up a wide range of ideas that tend to vary from person to person; some think it has strict ties to the video gaming industry, while others see it in its literal sense as being about actually playing games. If you’re one of these people, don’t be too hard on yourself—these aren’t the exact definitions but they’re not completely far-fetched either.

In its simplest terms, gamification makes work, and everyday activities, more fun. Gamification describes the process of applying typical game-like components—like point systems, rewards, problem-solving, and competition—to non-game activities in order to keep people motivated and participating in the task at hand. Across education, business, sports, marketing, and even finance, elements of gamification are being used to guide users in an enhanced brand, app or service experience that aims to entertain them and keep them coming back for more.

Overall, the aim of gamification is not to transform your event or platform into a game, but to instead make use of game-like elements to increase user engagement and enhance your user experience. The goal is to first understand what drives people to play games in the first place—the feeling of accomplishment, competition, excitement, or pleasure—and apply these factors to your platform to encourage certain behaviors, then reinforce those behaviors with rewards, allowing your users to feel a sense of achievement that supports their initial motivations. This roundabout gamification chain is called the ‘Engagement Loop’, and it can mean the difference between the failure and success of your platform.

Real-World Use Cases for Gamification

The amazing thing about gamification is that, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t limited to elearning, marketing, or any one industry for that matter. Think about the gamified experiences that motivate you or someone you know everyday: Going on a morning run to close Apple Watch activity rings; grabbing a Starbucks coffee to earn more loyalty points; listening to a book on Audible to get to the Gold Level badges before your friends. 

Even the US Army has started to incorporate gaming mechanics to increase traffic and engage recruits on their site, taking inspiration from popular army-centred video games to enhance their site experience. Visitors to the website are greeted with an invite to the game, and follow along to learn about missions, weapons, possible army career paths, and more. 

By gamifying their experiences, these brands and organizations allow their users to complete fun challenges, play games, compete with their friends, and earn exciting rewards that in turn encourage them to stay interested and loyal to the app, product, or service they’re using.

Gamification Techniques

By integrating gaming elements like quizzes, rewards, scoreboards, and progress displays, brands can draw in new users and engage their existing audiences, keeping them coming back to their platform for more. And while all this talk of trivia and badges may sound like a thing for kids, gamification has been proven to increase engagement and lead conversion, unlock new monetization opportunities, and boost brand loyalty in users, no matter their age, interests, or skill level. So what are the major gamification techniques?

1. Incentivizing Your Users

Incentivizing your users by offering points systems and rewards is one of the most common techniques for gamifying apps and experiences. By offering task achievement incentives like badges, points, or stars in return for completing specific actions, brands can encourage greater levels of interaction, drive customer loyalty and nudge their users towards certain behaviours on their platform. 

Points and badges become even stronger gamification tools when paired with exciting rewards that can be offered in return. For example, points can be used as virtual currency, and traded in by users for virtual or physical goods, the chance to meet their favourite celebrity, exclusive access to exciting events and experiences, and so much more.

A famous example of this type of gamification technique in the real world can be seen with an experiment in Stockholm called the Speed Camera Lottery. The experiment involved the installation of a speed camera that fined drivers going over the speed limit, and entered those who kept to the speed limit into a draw to win cash prizes. 

This type of social gamification worked to nudge people towards driving more safely on the roads, but in a way that also incentivized them with the chance to receive fun, exciting rewards. All of a sudden, through gamifying the speed-camera system, good behaviours were seen as much more desirable.

Brands can take this method of incentivizing their users to the next level, by monetizing their rewards processes through a tiered system. By offering additional content or better rewards in return for subscribing to a premium membership, users are encouraged to pay annual or seasonal charges to unlock these special rewards. This gamification technique not only incentivizes users to spend more time on your platform, but also to invest in getting an exclusive user experience.

2. Creating a Sense of Competition

Chances are, you’ll have customers and clients that are greatly motivated by a challenge. In the outcome of most games, there are clear winners and losers; and as harsh as that may sound, it’s this element of games that often makes them worth playing. Players are motivated by the fear of losing and the potential victory of winning, whether they’re intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. 

Applying gamification tactics with interactive features—like polls, quizzes, and predictions—that will test them and create a sense of competition is an amazing strategy to encourage user interaction. For users who are naturally competitive and crave a challenge or a sense of rivalry, displaying the results of these features on a visual leaderboard or score tracker will drive this engagement even further. 

Real-world examples of this type of gamification technique can commonly be found within the health and fitness industry, on platforms like that of Peloton. Peloton uses gamification to engage users and promote physical activity and the use of their app and equipment, through leaderboards, badges, and even live interactions between users. 

Within its leaderboard feature, Peloton allows users to see a live view of their progress relative to others, and relative to their personal best. Users can filter the leaderboard by age, gender and location, to get an even closer sense of who they’re up against. 

By allowing your users to see their progress and that of the competition on a leaderboard, activity ring, or points bar, it works to keep them motivated, excited to use your platform, and maybe even eager to share their results with friends and family.

Should Your Business Use Gamification?

As a brand, integrating gamification elements like point scoring, competition and rewards into your business model can mean the difference between keeping your audience on your platform, and losing them to the competition. In our digital-first world, users have grown accustomed to online experiences that will hold their attention, connect them to their friends and likeminded users, offer them something in return for their time and participation, and turn mundane tasks into fun, rewarding activities. 

If integrated wisely, gamification not only has the power to encourage people to engage with your user experience at an individual level, but it may also work to build a sense of kinship within your greater community. 

By offering the use of group leaderboards, competitive quizzes and team trivia games, users are given the opportunity to interact with one another, share their unique ideas and passions, and even show off their competitive side through fun, collaborative contests. Fostering a sense of community on your platform gives your users a place where they feel like they belong, and in turn, want to stay loyal to.

Introducing gamification poses no real risks to your business, and instead presents endless opportunities to entertain, educate, and engage your customers, all while gaining access to crucial user data that will help improve your platform. Brands that want to stay on top of these demands will work to introduce gaming elements to their user experience and start unlocking the potential of their platforms.

At LiveLike, we bring gamification to our clients’ platforms in just minutes, taking into account their industries, brand identities, and the unique needs of their users. Our audience engagement suite allows brands to seamlessly integrate points systems, rewards, virtual currency capabilities, and more, in order to boost brand loyalty, increase fan engagement, and gamify their user experience.

Still not sure if gamification can be applied to your business platform? Get in touch today to learn more about how gaming elements can enhance your user experience.
Written By
Megan Glover
Content Manager
Written By
Megan Glover
Content Manager

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