7 Common Myths About Gamification

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

There are many common myths and misconceptions surrounding gamification that can hinder its successful implementation as a marketing, corporate, or learning strategy. 

Gamification Myth Contents:

  1. Gamification and games are the same thing

  2. Gamification is not suited to a mature age audience

  3. Gamification is simply structured competition

  4. Gamification alone can fix any engagement issue

  5. Gamification is just a fad

  6. Gamification will naturally draw in users

  7. There is no science behind Gamification

If we can understand the true nature of gamification, we can potentially wield its positive strengths to help optimise any future projects and campaigns. Gamification can be an exciting and effective approach to a task that enables users of all ages and backgrounds to become engaged in and excited about the task at hand.

Let’s explore some of the top myths, and the corresponding truths, surrounding gamification:

Myth #1: Gamification and games are the same thing

To get right down to it, games are produced to primarily engage and entertain the audience with no real further targeted outcomes. Whereas brand recall, positive association, game-based learning, pipelined productivity and so on are all objectives and outcomes to differing gamification initiatives.

Gamification, even though it shares similar benefits, is addressing real-world challenges with what we learn from games. It is the process of applying game elements and game design techniques to non-game contexts, with the objective of engaging and motivating people by making their real-world tasks more fun.

Myth #2: Gamification is not suited to a mature age audience

Following on from the first myth in this list, there is a stigma from people on the outside looking in, that gamification is a child-friendly concept that losses its appeal with age. This simply is not true as there are 2.3 billion gamers across the world from varying demographics, along with multiple tiered groups of people that are sympathetic towards games.

Gamification today is being deployed into areas such as learning, software coding, leadership training, ethics, marketing, exercise & health, banking, science, research and innovation.

The bottom line is, whether you’re into games or not, everyone has participated in varying forms of game mechanics & dynamics before. We as humans have an innate understanding of reward, status, achievement, and competition. All of which are baked into a well-rounded gamification initiative.

Myth #3: Gamification is simply structured competition

This particular myth deters people all the time from using gamification elements in their workplace, marketing or learning, and with good reason too. Not everyone likes competitive environments, their natural response to competition is to opt out. This is highlighted in the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology, which highlights 4 key gamer profiles and their approaches to a challenge.

Some people revel in the opportunity to compete against others no matter the context, while some prefer to self-compete, others wish to explore and discover, and others wish to be social. If a gamification campaign is launched to a large audience but only offers a competition framework, there’s a good chance a lot of people will feel burnt by the objective structure.

A good gamification initiative is structured to offer something for all 4 gamer types, as there’s room enough for everyone to participate and play to their strengths. The truth is, gamification need not be about competitions at all. Gamification can also be used to build collaboration among individuals through collective tasks. Under the lens of business gamification, many companies use gamification principles to build a shared understanding of their mission and values.

Myth #4: Gamification alone can fix any engagement issue

No matter how many game elements you throw at a campaign, if the intrinsic value is not realised by the user, then the engagement factor simply won’t happen. Going beyond the experience of gamification, the evidence of progress through analytics can make it compelling for the learner.

Myth #5: Gamification is just a fad

Gamification has infiltrated society long before now, yet we have only just started to see it begin to be become fully formed and recognised as a motivational tool.

This outlook on gamification as a gimmick that won’t be around for very long is actually hurting a lot of businesses as their competitors have adopted gamification elements into their app interfaces, office practices, marketing ploys, fitness tech, and so on, only to see an increase in productivity and engagement from users. 

In the case of learning both with and without the use of technology, the mechanics of gameplay have been used for years to help students truly grasp educational concepts. For example, when learning a language, games are often used in the classroom to improve memory recall.

As gaming technology becomes even more integrated into everyday life, it only makes sense that it will continue to be used as a tool to engage and motivate people in other tasks. When it comes to corporate training, many Generation Y employees expect technology to facilitate their work and learning.

Myth #6: Gamification will naturally draw in users

The truth is, unless you promote your gamified initiative, participation will be no better than any other initiative out there. Having a fully mapped-out marketing campaign is a necessity for a gamified initiative to be made known and embraced by the targeted audience. 

Ultimately though, you want users to tell others about their positive experience, that is the sign of a successful campaign. We tend to trust the opinions of people we know, so word-of-mouth can be particularly effective at driving participation.

Regardless of how you encourage people to sign up, the key is to make sure they know about the opportunity in the first place. If no one knows about your program, they are not going to enrol.

Myth #7: There is no science behind Gamification

Gamification was created around the concept of motivational psychology.

Brian Burke’s book “Gamify: How gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things” breaks down the three core values of successful gamification initiatives in order to motivate users into the participation in an activity as being; Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. These motivators avoid extrinsic values such as monetary rewards but rather tap into intrinsic values, such as social and self-esteem-building rewards.

These motivators coincide with Psychologist Martin Seligman’s PERMA model. Through dedicating his life to the study of the human mind and how positive and negative psychological health affects a person’s outlook on different topics. After many successful writings and discoveries, Martin formulated the PERMA model which was crucial for lasting well-being.

Gamification with its human-focused design, taps into each of the 5 points of the PERMA model, in order to satisfy the unspoken desires of the human mind and put users on a desired path in the process. The principles consist of Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishments.

When considering gamification as a new initiative approach, ensure that sound research-based methods are integral to the solution.


One of the first steps to increasing the correct usage of gamification and harnessing its power is to overcome our collective misconceptions about it as an engagement tool.

If you’d like to learn more about gamification and whether or not it should be part of your next strategy, connect with our team today!

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