The game as a tool: what is gamification?

Based on the experience of specific people and organizations, we explain how gamification can be a method of research, education, improvement of the urban environment and organization of interaction between different subjects. This article discusses the definition of gamification and its conceptual and practical limits.

Gamification is the use of certain aspects of games in non-gaming practices. According to Salen and Zimmermann, a game is a system in which players are involved in resolving a conflict piece by piece, which is defined by rules and results in a quantitative outcome. Gamification differs from other game formats because its participants are focused on the purpose of their real activity, and not on the game as such. Game elements are integrated into real-life situations to motivate specific behaviors under given conditions.

Gamification can be integrated into any field of education. A striking example is the boring element of student learning, such as writing academic papers. A student from one of the popular universities suggested gamification in his department and said about it, “In college, the most boring thing for me is writing essays. So one day when I I needed write an essay for me in sociology, I suggested to my teacher to use one of the gamification elements, such as game levels.

The essence of this method is to assign levels based on the number and quality of written essays. The levels are of the following types: Junior, Medium and Senior. If a student obtains the highest level before the end of the semester, he has the right to reduce the number of questions on the exam ticket. It adds extra motivation.” In this article, we will take a detailed look at what gamification is and how to implement it in the learning process.

What are the functions of gamification

1) Gamification is a method to increase the efficiency of learning or work.

When we get used to repetitive activities, they become automatic: we stop thinking about the quality of the result and its contribution. Routine reduces motivation and dissipates attention. The opposite is the state of flux – a high degree of isolation at work. In this state, we do not remember the plate of the year and achieve maximum concentration and efficiency. The psychometric analysis testifies to a strong dependence between the components of the gameplay process and the flow state. They are characterized by the same conditions (clear communication of goals, balance of skills and stimuli, control and feedback) as well as possible outcomes (fusion of actions and notification, concentration, loss of perception of time and loss of self-consciousness) .

2) Gamification can drive human behavior.

It is similar to persuasive techniques designed to influence behavior without unduly forcing change. Point endorsement and rank advancement can work as an incentive to act in an endorsed manner. People change undesirable behaviors to more effective behaviors to achieve the goal.

3) Gamification is an obstacle.

Each professional group produces professional jargon: formal and informal terminology. It facilitates communication within the community but makes it difficult for others to understand. In order not to spend years on the division of understanding, gamification creates freedom of specific words and allows participants to focus on the common goal and how to achieve it.

4) Gamification directs game patterns towards solving life situations.

It reorganizes and transforms the experience, which is often routine or difficult for non-experts. The main purpose of game elements is to create a space for productive competition and cooperation.

What gamification is not

Gamification is a means of influencing human behavior based on game elements. Transforming the experience through games creates social and psychological restrictions that allow the withdrawal of human potential. For the process to be called amicable, it must have four characteristics, which Jen McGonigal criticized in her TedEX speech:

  • Clearly defined goals that motivate participation in the game;
  • Logical and follow-up rules that set the limits and the framework for achieving the set objectives;
  • A stable communication system, which ensures that the objectives are achieved and that the players respect the rules;
  • Voluntary commitment to learn the game and follow the rules to achieve the goal.

Sebastian Deterding and his colleagues consider four concepts based on the idea of ​​play: gamification, serious games, fun and game design. The differences between them lie in two dimensions:

  • gaming/playing (gaming/playing) – referring to the conjugation and regulation of activities;
  • whole/parts – indicates the degree of integration of game elements into the process.

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Serious games have a specific objective aimed at solving real-life situations.

Toys (toys) are games that do not have clear rules and do not aim for a specific outcome or goal; they focus only on experiencing positive emotions or unhindered investigation.

Playful design also has no specific goal supported by the rules; it is used to make the process more humane, attractive and easy to accept.

Gamification uses game elements, but the basis of the process remains the same. However, these concepts are more theoretical and can cooperate successfully in practice.

How Play Imagination Works

Gamification does not offer universal tools that can improve any process. There are clear requirements for the implementation of game techniques and for the gamification object itself.

The elements of the game can improve the process or destroy it. Using games does not create a zero-sum experience. Gamification cannot correct errors made in planning and management, but it can improve the already created and well-recorded model and increase motivation.

Based on the thoughts of well-known experts engaged in gamification research and practice, we have developed some suggestions for implementing this approach.

Gamification requires specificity. It is possible to gamify only processes that have clear goals and objectives. In any game consisting of multiple levels, you need to perform certain skills to advance to the next one. It gives an understanding of the competence and the result of their actions. Formulating the goal – is an important and difficult process that requires creativity and logic, but without it even a good idea cannot succeed.

Necessary study of the public. To create space for achieving the result, you need to understand the attitudes and values ​​of the target group. It determines the conception, the style of language and the mode of intervention. The city government website and dating app differ in nature, how information is presented, and user goals.

People always have certain expectations about interacting with others. Violating these expectations can cause stress, dissatisfaction, and a desire to avoid contact. For example, an overly graphic design, light vocabulary, or a boring chat window are more likely to question the credibility of the official body rather than looking like a “user-friendly interface”.

The design must organize the interaction between the actors of the process and not only be acceptable and comprehensible for the user. The integration of game elements into non-game related processes should occur in the interdisciplinary field and be tested at different stages.

The development of the visual part and process design is based on logic models focusing on a certain target. For example, if a student in an online course completes the first unit on date X, they receive a bonus in the form of a certain number of points towards their certificate. Thus, the aggregate behavior among the group participants is activated, which helps to achieve the best individual results.

Brian Barkle, research vice president at Gartner, said game development is important not just for the obvious components like leadership achievements and bullets. Much more important is the creation of mechanisms to balance competition and cooperation.

It is necessary to combine the action and the instrument which relates to it. As a result, you have to go through some trial and error to be satisfied with the feasibility and effectiveness of setting up the elements of the game.

Simply put, game design elements like leaderboards or avatars aren’t a hit. Gamification cannot change the nature of the process. If it is long, routine and unpleasant, the addition of some game design principles does not make it more attractive for users. He is unlikely to succeed in trying to gamify the bogan behind the seals and signatures between the desks of not-so-attractive officials. Often people act irrationally, but it’s not worth giving them a noncommittal attitude under the guise of a rousing game.


Most of today’s challenges are at the crossroads of several dimensions and require complex solutions. To achieve them, it is necessary to involve different actors and provide a framework for effective interdisciplinary work.

Gamification does not provide direct answers to questions but provides space for collaborative exploration. The organization of human behavior suggested by it can be used for partisanship on different scales, for example, to solve court or city problems. Given its potential and limitations, gamification is a spur to experimentation and discussion.

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