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a better way to engage

Gamification basics

Gamification is an increasingly used approach to increase engagement in employees, customers and citizens and nudge behaviour. It draws from games, user centred design and psychology to tap into deep psychological and emotional needs, thereby creating engaging and fun experiences.

In its most basic form, gamification is the use of points, badges and leaderboards to reward performance. It uses social status and team spirit to incentivise and reward desired behaviours. Other common mechanics and dynamics include gaining experience points, levelling up, questing, competition with other individuals and teams, chance, and receiving virtual and real rewards.




As an evolving field, there is a lot of debate about what is and is not included in the term 'gamification'. There are a lot of definitions out there, some that are unhelpfully vague, others that are specific and limit gamification to digital platforms. 

We use this definition:

Gamification is the use of game mechanics and experience design to engage users and solve real world problems.

 - Oberprieler 2017

The other element that is causing debate is about how gamification relates to other concepts such as games, game-based learning, serious games, simulation and playful design. Some argue that gamification is an umbrella term for all of these concepts, others suggest that gamification sits next to the other concepts, and other still argue that gamification shouldn't be a term at all because it is just a game (we disagree). 

No doubt this debate will continue as the field matures. While we find this discourse interesting and important, we are more interested in applying it to make the world a better place. 


Core drivers of behaviour

Gamification taps into psychological, emotional and social drivers. Just as video games and other games elicit positive psychological states, gamification triggers the same limbic system in the brain and releases ‘feel-good’ hormones like dopamine. There are many psychological theories underpinning gamification, including Self-Determination Theory, Reiss drivers of motivation, and Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs. These 7 core needs s are a useful way to summarise the key human motivations.



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