Gamification implies the application of game mechanics and game thinking out of the game environment. Primary purposes served by gamification include developing solutions to problems, ensuring effective learning and increasing user engagement. Due to its several favourable effects, such as encouraging individuals to perform tasks which they otherwise consider boring, the use of gamification can be observed in various domains and processes.
The different gamification techniques used are primarily aimed at fulfilling natural human desires for learning, competition, socializing, achievement, status, etc. In many gamification strategies rewards are given to players who are able to accomplish the set goals and these rewards can be in many forms, such as achievement badges, increasing levels and virtual currency.
Another and more preferred approach used in relation to gamification includes making the existing task appear like games. Some popular methods used in this technique can be offering meaning choices to participants, adding narrative or increasing the level of challenge. There are various psychological concepts which form the basis of gamification. Good understanding and knowledge of concepts, like behaviour, personality and motivation, is crucial for the proper implementation of gamification.
Although this concept has been around since many years and already implemented in a number of processes, application of gamification can be observed the most in the marketing world, where it serves the obvious purpose of marketing, as well as helps the companies in customer retention. Customer engagement is another domain where gamification has shown immense improvement, such as encouraging desirable behaviour during website usage.
Many companies are also recognizing the effectiveness of gamification for producing new ideas. It has been observed that ideation games are highly productive when it comes to helping participants generate better ideas.
Gamification is considered to generate great interest in the field of training and education as well, as it has been observed that learners show better retention due to this; thus ensuring lifelong learning. It is a highly effective tool in improving employee productivity, as it can be used to make the work processes and style more encouraging and engaging.
Gamification dynamics and gamification mechanics are two terms which are often used interchangeably; however, there are subtle differences between the two that need to be understood for its effective use. Gamification mechanics can be explained as basic control mechanisms or actions which create a simulation. On the other hand, the dynamics of gamification can be also described as the desires that can be satisfied using this method.
As a human being, we have various natural desires, such as being recognized in a competition. Game mechanics act as tools to move forward the action, while the concepts used for gamification dynamics include: achievement, altruism, rewards, competition, self-expression and status.
The primary elements included in gamification dynamics are classified as emotions, constraints and narrative. These can be further defined as below:
Emotions are an inseparable part of our daily life and the emotions can range from enjoyment or happiness to sadness. Simulation can be used to experience certain emotions as well, such as encouraging the sense of accomplishment after making a right decision to feel anxious at the dire consequences caused due to a bad or irrational decision.
The use of constraints is most apparent in the gaming environment, as there are certain rules that the players are expected to follow. In gamified simulation some boundaries and rules are established within the design. The learners are presented with various meaningful options and it is the choices he make which have an effect on the simulation.
Narrative acts as a common thread, binding the entire process together. Every simulation or game has a story behind it and narrative performs this task by developing graphical experiences, which allow the learners to experience as well as better retain the material presented.
It can be concluded that gamification dynamics make it possible to create a compelling experience for users, encouraging them to take specific actions. This is done by catering to our basic desires, such as desire to achieve the goals and get rewarded for the actions. If used in the right way, gamification dynamics can prove highly rewarding by driving user participation and engagement to the desired level.
With the advancements in the industry, the dynamics of gamification are sure to evolve, still their focus should always remain on the principles of the desires that motivate us and influence the decision making process. Including gamification dynamics in an existing process is sure to lead to the desired success.
This article was written by Eliana Sarsforst Zulsberg, a learning consultant specializing in topics related to gamification in e-learning.