Gamification is the use of game-play mechanics for non-game consumer technology applications, particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications.
Video games – especially online based community games – and the explosion of social networking are a combination redefining how we will experience the Web and online content over the next decade. The melding of these two powerful forces is the new buzzword “gamification.” At its most basic level, it refers to the idea of including elements of video games into non-gaming content that utilize social networking features. You’ve probably already encountered some of the most basic tools: leader boards, progress bars, badges and virtual gifts.
If you use the professional networking site LinkedIn, you’ve seen a progress bar that tells you how much of your profile you’ve filled out. The company found that simple tool induces people to continue adding information, thanks to our innate desire to complete a task. That additional information creates more connections for you, leading you to spend more time on the site.
Developers believe game design will make tasks more fun and engaging. If it’s done wrong, ramification could easily come across as a creepy attempt to manipulate us. It’s important to note that gamification is not about turning every single thing you do on the Web into an actual game. It’s more subtle than that. Done well, these are features you may not even be aware are driven by game thinking.
Game thinking has even extended beyond the Web. Companies now offer prizes as incentive for development teams to build solutions to problems. And I’ve met startups that want to use the smart energy grid to create services that show people information about their energy consumption and compete against their neighbors and community to reduce their use.
Many of the concepts of gamification have been mapped out by Byron Reeves, a professor of communication at Stanford University who published a book last year called, “Total Engagement: Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete.”
“Some of the ingredients of games are absolutely psychologically primitive,” Reeves said. “We know the brain responds to gains and losses, whether it’s real dollars or virtual gold pieces. There’s something fundamental about recognition, seeing yourself compared to other people.”
To get you started on this topic, here are some links on Gamification
And if you got a spare 30min, you should listen to this very enlightening speech: