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What is Gamification?


Dr Zac Fitz-Walter (PhD in Gamification Design) gives us a greater understanding of what Gamification is and where it originated from. Watch now to discover for yourself!

Docter Zachary Fitz-Walter
Head of Education

Gamification has been used for thousands of years but what is Gamficaiton?
Some examples are things like Sport ‘games’ which were originally created to get people to take action and keep fit. Board Games like Chess were created to educate soldiers on military strategy. Ancient games like “Knuckles” were used to keep people's minds entertained and engaged during famine.

Games and game like elements have been used to educate, entertain and engage for thousands of years. Some classic game elements are; Points, badges & leaderboards. Points are used in sports, Badges used in the military and Leaderboards in the olympics and even sales teams to quickly name a few. (For more information of these fundamental's check our the 8 Core Human Drives Of Gamification)

There are many different definitions for the term gamification. One of the most popular definitions is found in an academic paper from 2011 where gamification was defined as "the addition of game elements to non-game activities". 


Gamification is the addition
of game elements to
non-game activities


Do you want to know what gamification more in depth? Well, in this series of articles will give you a quick overview of some of the key concepts of gamification. We'll look at a range of different topics that relate to gamification. You'll come away knowing much more about gamification and how to use it to effectively.

Gamification Example: Fitness 

How can we encourage people to exercise more? Well, some clever designers in Sweden came up with a playful idea to encourage everyday commuters to take the stairs instead of the escalator. They did this by making the stairs more fun to use by turning them into a giant working piano. They found that by doing this, 66% more people than normal chose the stairs over the escalator. But more than that, the commuters looked like they had a lot of fun at the same time. Some of them were walking up and down...and up again, just playing with the giant piano. These piano stairs are an incredible example of using the power of play to motivate people. And this is the exactly type of thinking behind gamification, where play is used to motivate us. The only difference is that gamification draws more specifically from video games. Why? Because video games are incredibly engaging.

Gamification Example: Business 

Gamification is an interesting word. It hasn’t been around that long. And it is difficult working our who first proposed the term. We do know that the term started to gain popularity around 2011 and is being used more and more these days to describe a verity of different things. Around the same time that the term gamification began to gain traction. The local sharing service Foursquare took off as well. Initially realised in 2009, by 2011 foursquare had 7 million users. At the time The foursquare app basically allows you to check into different public places and businesses places like coffee shops, airpots or public park. You can then share this check in with your friends, so they can easily find you. But what Foursquare became really well know for, were the game elements that they added to the app as a way to encourage you to use it. If you checked into a location you would receive points. Check into another location you haven’t visited before and and you would receive even more points. You could then compare the number of points you had on a leaderboard with friends and you could also receive badges for doing special things like checking in on a boat or checking in with more than 50 people in one place. If you checked into a place more than anyone else, you became the Foursquare mayor of that place. This felt like a game. And it was a lot of fun to use. Foursquare become a popular example of gamification, what’s interesting, though, was that game elements they used started to appear in many different other applications and websites. And this may have contributed to these game elements becoming a popular way to add gamification. There are many different definitions for the term gamification. Top 3 common definition are;

Gamification Definitions

1. The addition of game elements to non-game activities. 
2. The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service" - Gamification Dictionary 
3. Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts - Wiki Gamification

In all these context, game elements can range from interface elements like badges, leaderboards, or levels. Or can also include game design methods, drawing from the way we design games.
What's interesting is that gamification is not a new concept. Actually if you remember Mary Poppins, she sums up gamification quite nicely with the quote; 


"In every Job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and SNAP! the job's a game" - Mary Poppins


Gamification in Education

She was on to something here. She knew that something could be made fun by turning it into a game all the way back in the 1960s. Gamification existed even earlier than this. If you were a Boy Scout you could obtain real badges and ranks back in the early 1900s. However as video games started to take off, we saw educational video games then become popular in the 1970s and 80s. You may remember such games as 'Where in the World is Carmen San Diego', ‘Reader Rabbit' and 'Math Blaster’. These games were built for serious purposes, to educate players.
These days we’re seeing more and more serious games in gamification, partly because video games have become mainstream and, as well, smartphones have made it incredibly easy to play games anywhere.
 This is 1/3 Video's i've done to explain gamification. Click on the "Next Article" bottom right to go to the next video where I go through the "Top Gamification Examples". 
Join me in the following video as we talk about popular examples of gamification >>>

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