The Principles of Gamification

Gamification. We all know immediately upon reading the word that there’s something inside that hasn’t been figured out. It’s too broadly applied and holds very little real meaning.

The word itself seems to say, “look what this disruptive technology of the internet has done to us” – the second half of the word seems to offend the first half. The “you got marketing in my once-loved-behavior!” notion of the naysayers results in that icky feeling you get when you see how sausage is made. With the wonder and imagination that games represent for so many, the word falsely infers that one can simply go and pay someone to “gamify” something – and somehow that’s supposed to be a good thing? There’s conflict in gamification. We seek to understand it. Bring on the badges!

Yes. The business world sees the Farmville invites and Foursquare badges a-flyin’, and figures that gamifying their world means imitating the tactics readily surveyed by just being on Facebook. -5, friends. There’s more to it.

  • Melvin Bodily

    Great article. I particularly like the comments about how “(w)hen (gamification) works, the game mechanics or brand narration can almost become invisible” and that “when you are motivated to act… the individual mechanics just become part of the game.” Very true. In many ways I think this is actually some of the aversion of many folks to Facebook and other overly aggressive social platforms that feel like the internet equivalent of a thousand bumperstickers on the back of your car. The principles of gamification don’t need to be comically over-exaggerated to work properly.

  • Greg

    “Gamification,” as trite a subject matter as it already is to date, is the exact opposite of this article: long, wordy, and too laborious to finish.

    No offense, but guessing the writer is some sort of self-indulgent interactive “expert” who’s so tied up in his Pinterest/Facebook/Spotify egos that he’s blissfully unaware that these sort of “enlightenments” have always been a core truth in our real, non-digital lives.

    There are too many of these blase articles online nowadays.  How about writing something that’s unique and inspiring, people?! (btw, a Tweet doesn’t count!)


  • Mark

    Greg, agreed — this article was somewhat painful to get through, but there are a few nuggets that do respect what ‘gamification’ means in the current stage of stragetic thinking.

    It could easily have been two paragraphs of insight versus the overly long-winded “article” presented here… but again, it’s an important subject that is interesting to note, if written better.

  • Geoff

    This article read as if the writer applied the MS Word thesaurus for every sentence written — was a difficult read that hurt my head.

    I feel like I read an exaggerated Wikipedia entry regarding normal human competitive behavior.    Where’s the so-called “insight” into how digital transcends/evolves this instinctive, human trait?

    It’s basically an evolved marketing tactic at the end of the day, isn’t it?  Trick users into engaging with a brand through “gamifying” a digital experience because, as humans, we’re “wired to compete and play.”  

    The thing that bothers me most about these “digital experts” is how they trick their own minds into thinking they’re re-inventing the wheel through tactics that are only “innovative” because they’re seen through the lens of a new medium.  

    I’ll look forward to this gentleman’s unique insights on ‘parallax’ on his 15″ laptop screen, next.

  • Lauren G153

    Agree and disagree —

    There are interesting points about how users need to be “tricked” into understanding what’s going on behind the scenes of their digital encounters…

    However I do agree that this article, while interesting, was a little lengthy and could use less $.50 words.

    I also have to say that final infographic was so busy/confusing that it gave me a headache.  This Writer should have game-ified that one to make a point!

    Self-indulgently written, probably… I’ve read better.  But it has a few solid points if you can focus on the main idea.

  • matt maxwell

    Some pretty snarky comments here. Especially the whining about how all the long words ‘hurt my head’. But then, that’s why they’re at the foot of the page and not the top.

    I liked this article, found it useful and can use the research that went into it. Thanks!