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Let’s play a game

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How we use the play instinct for our own purposes. 

Leaving the comfort zone, improving learning effects, winning customers, testing applicants' qualifications - all this is made possible (in a modified form) by transferring typical game elements and processes to non-game contexts. Sounds like magic? You might think so, but what lies behind it is - drum roll - gamification.

What is gamification? 

Gamification is a method in which typical game elements are introduced into non-game contexts - that much is already clear from the introduction. The concept is based on the idea that people are naturally game-oriented and enjoy mastering challenges and receiving rewards. The aim is therefore to promote motivation, engagement and interaction using something that has been positively associated with us since the beginning of our lives - play. 

By integrating game mechanics such as scoring systems, progress indicators, leaderboards, badges and competitions into areas such as education, work, healthcare and even marketing, companies can influence user participation, learning or behavior in a fun way.

This is nothing new in the education sector, as many learning apps award badges and points for answering questions correctly or achieving learning objectives, for example. In the fitness sector, there are also apps that reward regular exercise, for example. 

Gamification is used as a method to increase user motivation and engagement, simplify complex tasks, promote learning and improve user loyalty.

Gamification for websites 

But of course we're all asking ourselves the question: where can you use this game stuff? Well, for example, when developing and designing a new website. 

In this area in particular, there are mechanisms that can have a very positive influence on user interaction and loyalty. 

The following examples can also be partially applied to online stores, let's get started: 

  • The reward: users share your content on social media? Great, that's the best starting point for a badge or points à la gamification. 

  • Social interaction: The integration of social functions such as comments, likes and the like can encourage users to interact with others. This can also be found in games.

  • Reward for engagement: Shops and websites can reward users who regularly log in or provide feedback. 

  • The exclusive club: You've been shopping online for a while and suddenly notice that you've been invited to a club that offers exclusive discounts and opportunities? Congratulations, you've moved up a level as a customer. 

  • Points: We know how to collect points and benefit from them both online and offline. And these points can then be used again à la PayBack. Cashback programs and systems follow the same principle.

Competitions or rankings are another stylistic device from the gaming industry that are also used on websites or in stores. Competition in particular is part of human nature and we like to be triggered to outdo others.

Gamification in marketing 

The possibilities here are also very extensive and we are all familiar with many of them from our everyday lives. 

We have already seen rewards and loyalty programs in stores, but they can also be used as part of a clever marketing campaign. And the good thing is that everyone usually benefits. 

Competitions and challenges are becoming more and more common on social media - followers are encouraged to share content with slogans such as "Show me your best ...". Not only a way to reward the best, but also encourages engagement and produces UGC (user-generated content). 

Companies whose products and services are a little more complicated can also make use of gamification in the context of knowledge transfer. Virtual training courses, the good old quiz or interactive tutorials are just a few of the possibilities. 

The technical possibilities offered by VR and AR (virtual and augmented reality) are also changing the nature of campaigns. Interactivity is no longer a challenge and with mini-games via QR code from a poster or puzzles, the whole thing can now be moved to another world. 

There are other possibilities and there will probably be even more digital support in the future. But the fact remains: gamification can help improve interaction with the target group in marketing, increase loyalty to a brand and therefore have a positive impact on sales in the long term.

Why does gamification work? 

First things first: gamification is not a panacea and it does not work under duress. It is a tool that appeals to people's natural urge to play and works best when there is more self-motivation (intrinsic) than external motivation (extrinsic). And therein lies the crux of the matter, because in marketing in particular, the starting point is always extrinsic. So how do you solve this? 

How wonderful that there are many clever people in the world who pass on their knowledge. One of these clever people is management consultant and author Yu-kai Chou, who is more than good at gamification. So well, in fact, that he has developed the Octalysis Framework.

The basic assumption from the gaming industry, which has been generating billions for video games and the like for years, is the following: Games have no other purpose than to please the player. Keeping the player happy, entertaining the player - that's what it's all about. Sounds simple, but it's not. The games industry has perfected this and shown us that it is the "master" at promoting motivation and engagement. And intrinsically. 

Yu-kai Chou followed the gaming industry for a long time and developed his framework with 8 principles based on this experience and knowledge. 

  1. Meaning and vocation 

  2. Development and performance 

  3. Encouraging creativity and feedback 

  4. Possession and ownership 

  5. Social influence and connectedness

  6. Scarcity and impatience

  7. Unpredictability and curiosity

  8. Loss and avoidance

If you would like to find out more about the individual principles, you are welcome to read the corresponding article by Yu-kai Chou, where everything is explained in detail. 
⁠For intrinsic motivation, games trigger crucial feelings that make you want to play again and again: 

  • Being able to experience development and improved performance

  • Being able to control something 

  • To take possession of something 

  • Being able to take advantage of a unique opportunity 

And we all know exactly that - and much more - and have experienced it not only in games, but also in films or series, for example.
⁠Now there are also extrinsic triggers and together with the self-motivation triggered by various feelings, gamification can work: Curiosity and the unexpected combined with social participation and the feeling that one's actions have a social meaning. And there are two very clever drives that are also partly responsible for gaming addiction: The feeling of being called to do something (Not just for yourself, but for a large community) and the feeling of having to stay active in order not to lose what you have gained. You can read more about this in this article.
⁠Simply crazy and of course there's more to it than that - especially in games, graphics and speed are also an important factor. But ultimately, we are using triggers here that can trigger something in the human brain that can be addictive.


Gamification - a method of awakening the play instinct in people and helping to influence an action through a clever combination of extrinsic and triggered intrinsic motivation. Crazy, isn't it?

Of course, we have also researched a few examples, which you can find in coma's article. For other articles from us, continue on the F7 blog.

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