Points. Badges. Leaderboards. These are the common game elements that most people think of when they hear gamification. Gamification is much more than just badges and points, however. It is also “gameful design”–making the overall experience more like a game. Previously, we talked about what why people play games and some game design principles that increase engagement. Next, we will take a look at some gamification examples applied in the real world.
Gamification has made its way into quite a few non-entertainment applications. It can take many forms, and is being applied across several applications across education, healthcare, and the workplace. Chances are, you’ve seen and used some of these before.
Here are a few common gamification examples:
Gamification examples in the home and office
- Does your electric bill statement show your energy consumption compared to neighbors? This is an example of a Leaderboard from oPower. It shows how you are doing compared to your peers, in hopes of motivating you to be more energy efficient. It utilizes feedback to meet the motivational need of Relatedness (desire for connection with others through interaction and shared experiences), while also pushing at the drive to achieve mastery and Competence (desire to achieve goals and improve).
- Frequent flyer programs, credit cards, and restaurant punch cards all give you “points” for doing the things they want you to do–namely, flying on their airline, making purchases with their credit card, or dining at their restaurant–and reward you for it. These all meet the definition of a game: they have a goal (get enough points), which must be met by following the rules (get points for completing qualified tasks), and provide rewards for success (free stuff from redeeming points or completed cards). They give regular feedback through status updates or stamps which show progress towards the goal.
- Progress meters are another way of visually displaying a score. For example, consider your LinkedIn profile. It shows a meter telling you how complete your profile is (with a level) and what you can do to improve your score. This can be very motivating to people and drive them to complete the desired tasks, which make them more engaged and involved with the site. The “completion meter” provides visual feedback to the user and guides them towards the actions that will allow them to increase their level. Giving names to the levels can also encourage people to want to achieve the next level, which can drive behavior.
Gamification examples in health and fitness
Gamification is making an impact in helping people to live healthier lives.
- Fitness apps motivate people to exercise by adding story, leaderboards, and rewards to the exercise routine. They track your exercise and let you compete with friends in leaderboards. Some of them provide story elements or reward points that can be exchanged for gift cards.
- Fitocracy is a social network to help people with their weight loss and fitness goals. It uses gamification techniques such as points and badges and community challenges to engage and motivate users to reach their own goals.
- mySugr is an example of a healthcare application of gamification. It makes managing blood sugar levels for patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes easier and more fun with eye-pleasing and interactive visuals, and points and rewards for logging blood glucose levels and eating the right foods.
Gamification examples in education and training
Education and training is also seeing the impacts of gamification.
- In computer programming, sites like CodeFights and CodinGame turn computer programming into competitive battles or logic puzzles to challenge users to improve their coding skills. They create a community and give players opportunities to achieve through higher ranks. They also give a safe space to explore in a reduced-risk environment where it is safe to fail. Contests and tournaments provide bragging rights and prizes.
- Massive open online courses (MOOCs), such as those offered by Coursera and EdX, also use gamification. They use online communities for social connection and offer completion certificates to display and show off completed courses. The courses themselves are set up with many smaller goals (individual lessons) which progressively get more difficult as the user’s skills grow, and they provide regular feedback as they complete the lessons and assignments.
Benefits of gamification
The above gamification examples show some simple implementations of game mechanics to drive behavior and engagement. There are many more such examples, from education to human resources to customer support call centers. Gamification adds game mechanics to everyday activities to make them more fun and engaging. When people are having fun, they are more likely to continue playing, share with others, and develop positive feelings and loyalty.
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