However successful gamification has managed to become from case to case, the process has managed to carry an aura of mystery and uncertainty over the years, leaving some companies, marketers and educators to remain skeptical of implementing it into their business practices, marketing campaigns and education guides. There’s been a lot of discourse lately about the validity of taking the characteristics we like about games and adding them to everyday activities. This divide between enthusiasts and critics has created several myths and misunderstandings about gamification.
There seems to be quite a disconnect between the expectations of gamification and the reality of the situation. The following examples are some of the most common misconceptions we here at Gamify have to dispel with clients on a regular basis.
Expectations vs Reality
Expectation: Gamification = Points, Badges, Leaderboards
Reality: Gamification gives users feedback
Though badges and points can increase initial engagement, that’s not the ultimate goal of gamification. In reality, some gamification examples don’t use badges, leaderboards and points at all. Think about it, you don’t play a game just to earn badges and points - the goal of any game is to master and overcome the challenge and competition to win. Gamification follows that same logic.
In reality, the key to a successful gamification program is the amount of feedback given to the user. Users need checkpoints to know if they are on the right track towards gaining a new skill or understanding new concepts. Yes, gamification can be built on points, extrinsic motivation and transactional engagement. But good gamification concentrates far more on ludification, intrinsic motivators and emotional engagement. That means a gamified solution can be gamified without ever offering a point, badge or status icon.
Points, badges and leaderboards MIGHT be effective mechanics for your situation — but these elements are the low-hanging fruit of simple gamification. If you shove them into your initiative without thoughtful design, you may see a short-term lift — but you won’t get longterm engagement. There are many game design techniques you can consider using — such as missions, unlocks, and narrative storytelling — that might be more powerful and effective for solving the problem you’re tackling. Look beyond the obvious, and you’ll have a much better shot at successfully engaging your players.
This myth is rooted in the mistaken belief that the visible progress markers within a game contain the essence of the game, and will motivate people to keep playing. Any game designer would laugh at this notion — game mechanics are like the icing on a cake, completely unsatisfying when served up separately. Game mechanics are the visible “tip of the iceberg” within a great gaming experience; the true power comes from the underlying systems, content and storytelling that hold your interest and propels you through the experience.
Expectation: Gamification is for a specific target market
Reality: Gamification has a much wider reach than originally thought
Some companies and brands fear that by including gaming elements into their work practices and marketing efforts, it will make isolate large portions of employees/the market, making the program or campaign less effective.
Games are multi-generational and appeal to young and old alike. If a business is looking for a way to appeal to consumers of all ages, games are currently the most accessible stream to reach such a wide network of demographics. According to Forbes, 2017 saw mobile gaming account for 42% of global gaming revenue - that's over $50 billion in revenue.
To give you an understanding of why mobile gaming is so lucrative, 80% of smartphone users play games on their phone, nearly 50% of which play games daily, putting in approximately 1-2 hours of gameplay each day. The Demographic of Male and Female mobile gamers is almost equally split at 48% Female to 52% Male gamers, with the average gamer being 36 years old.
These numbers show that the market is vast and varied and when you marry those figures up with the integration of smart devices into daily life, it becomes quite evident that whichever target market a business is aiming for is well within the reach of Gamification.
Bottomline, everyone likes to play games, the types and approaches vary but no one is immune to game principles motivating them through the completion of a task.
Expectation: Gamification is a short-term fix
Reality: Gamification, when done right, should offer a balance of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
Gamification can be unpacked into two different qualities, both found in gaming environments. One, which experts call “pointsification”, includes things like status icons and badges. This is what many people mean when they talk about gamification, however they’re only addressing one side of the coin. The other side, which experts call “ludification” (or playfulness) is achievement-based. Ludification is the more critical part about what makes games so appealing.
So yes, the first column in the table below contains many elements often associated with gamifying, but many of the most real and engaging benefits of gamification come from the second column. Do not neglect them in favour of the first!
|Status Icons||Puzzle solving|
While long-term strategies are more difficult to sustain, there are ways to move beyond short-term gamification.
“pointsification” and “ludification” fall into the categories of both Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation. The key to a well rounded gamification initiative is to strike a balance between the two, especially if you intend to have more of a long-term push on an action or campaign.
Even though it’s possible to design for long-term engagement, it’s important to note that it’s not always necessary. Centring conversations around the fact that not all gamification lasts indefinitely is just a red herring – the true focus should be on how it can solve issues in business, education, wellness, marketing and other industries.
Expectation: Gamification fixes everything
Reality: Gamification is an enhancer to preexisting practices (and problems)
Gamification certainly has many benefits. When done well it can increase production, build teamwork, motivate consumer purchases, cultivate enjoyment, inspire friendly competition and increase voluntary engagement. But when a gamified initiative is built upon a problematic marketing campaign/convoluted educational curriculum/detached office culture, in the hopes that it will eradicate all preexisting problems, thats when disappointment sets in.
I’m still surprised when people naively believe that sprinkling game mechanics onto a website or app will magically make that experience more compelling. Designing a compelling experience that unfolds over time is the essence of great game design. Game mechanics are visible artefacts — NOT the experience itself. Points, badges, and levels can support the experience and give the player useful feedback on their journey towards mastery —but without a well-crafted and interesting experience to support, game mechanics just add clutter and confusion. The key word there being support, as gamification is a principle and a process that helps support whatever pathways are already in place.
Gamification is fun, successful, autonomous, and all around us, but what thing it is not, is the “cure-all” some proponents give it credit for. Just slapping points, badges, and leaderboards on every application or platform does not guarantee its success. Despite the folks that are getting gamification right, it may not be the answer for your organisation. At least, not until you’ve addressed what problems need to be dealt with within your organisation first.
There are a lot of questions to consider, vendors to explore, and myths to bust before implementation. But you must first identify a business need, do some research, and create a plan. Gamification is one piece of that plan, and it can’t be only the piece.
Expectation: Gamification and games are the same
Reality: Gamification uses some gaming elements
Repeat after me: Gamification is not a game.
The key difference is games are made to entertain and pass the time. Gamification tactics, on the other hand, help users learn new skills or become product aware by using gaming elements, like quizzes at the end of each section.
As you can see, gamification is a great educating and training source for your employees and customers to keep them further engaged and motivated to develop within their jobs and brand loyalty.
In the simplest terms, games are made to entertain players. There’s generally a storyline, elaborate graphics, a winner, and so on. Gamification, meanwhile, uses aspects or elements of games to help people achieve goals outside of games. This context is key.
Though gamification may share some characteristics with games, the true distinction lies within the differences. Gamification leverages our love of competition and reward, and uses it to encourage certain actions that change people’s habits.
It’s easy to fall in love with the look and feel of game interfaces. The colours! The immersive visuals! The sophisticated HUD (heads-up display)! Many people kickoff their gamification project with sketches and ideas about creating a sexy game-like interface. Sometimes this makes sense — but oftentimes, the best interface is simple and flexible, with the game-like systems grinding away underneath, moving the player through the experience in a fun and effective way. The true power of games is embedded in the systems that propel your experience forward and help you learn new skills — not in the graphic layer on top.
Expectation: Only large, global brands can afford to develop an advergame
Reality: gamification software has never been more accessible
This may have been the norm in the not too distant past where branded games were developed from scratch by game development companies. The cost of development was significant and in many cases prohibitive to smaller companies and campaigns.
These day days however, companies such as Gamify have software platform that allow for either their team or partnered clients to create a gamified experience in next to no time on small budgets. Brand marketers can use a template approach, customers can customise best performing and popular consumer games to their brand and product images.
Expectation: Gamification requires App creation
Reality: HTML5 creations are both faster and more accessible gamification initiatives
This is an automatic assumption that is engrained into all smartphone users, as the common user is accustomed to everything within their phone falling into a category of app in order to use it. The reality is that there is no need for an app. Games are created using HTML5 which can be accessed on all smart devices, computers and mobile browsers. Internet access and speed is now so good on mobiles that games can be played from any location instantaneously.
Gamify’s platform is built entirely on HTML5 creations.
Expectation: Gamification doesn’t work
Reality: Gamification has spread to be incorporated into almost all facets of life
It’s true that gamification does not always work. In fact, there were an astronomical amount of gamification failures at the beginning of its rise in popularity. 80 percent of gamification programs between 2014-2016 failed to be precise. This was due to an over-enthusiasm combined by a lack of understanding by early adopters.
However, that doesn’t mean gamification is inherently flawed. There are several reasons why gamification projects flop such as primarily poor design or underlying organisational issues, but when done correctly, gamification works. Despite the companies that get it wrong, the 20 percent who get it right prove the science behind successful gamification is not a myth.
Expectation: Gamification is dead
Reality: Gamification is only just starting to reach its potential
The claim that gamification is dead can politely be described as a gross exaggeration. This dramatic declaration makes for a catchy headline, but the truth is that gamification is alive and well – even if it sometimes goes by other names.
Though it’s easy to dismiss gamification as a trend, its history can be traced to the late 1890s. Using fun and play to motivate people is far from new. Girl Scout badges, Weight Watchers points, Kellogg’s cereal box prizes – these are the early years of gamification.
Gamification may not look the same now that the world’s gone digital, but to say it’s dead is to overlook the strides the industry has made and the new ways it’s evolving. We all know that the use of mobile devices isn’t just becoming a common practice among people of all ages but rather a strongly incorporated tool in all facets of our day-to-day lives and that gaming statistics have only increased alongside mobile usage. With over 87% of Australian’s playing video games approximately three times a week (average age of an Australian gamer being 35 with 52% being male and 48% female). With the help of gamification, companies can reach this market and grow their sales and revenue by meeting their customer’s where their interest and attention is already being invested.
Gamification is alive and kicking due to its affordability, high conversion rates, affordability, Multiplatform use, social media friendly integration an so on.
There are a lot of varied thoughts towards gamification out there, most of which are rooted in speculation. We hope this read has helped clarify or rewire any previous thoughts you may have had towards gamification effectiveness.