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Gamification is already in your life, you just don't know it yet

Gamification - or some version of it - already exists in your life. Think about it. Gamification is all about designing an experience for people that brings them joy and keeps them doing a particular behaviour through incentives and rewards. 

Here are a few examples:

Getting coffee

Everyone is familiar with the coffee card - get 9 stamps and you get a coffee free. This is a great way to get coffee drinkers to come back to the same store and increase frequency of purchase. 

(Technically, this is a loyalty program and not gamification, but bear with us to make the point). 

It serves the business need of increasing customer purchases and brand loyalty. Your goal or quest is to get 9 stamps so that you can get a free hit of caffeine. You  also get the feeling of accomplishment by seeing those stamps edge ever close to the target, which is a great feedback mechanism used in games. And you may even get a friendly smile from the barista. 

These mechanics are arbitrary - there is no reason the aim is 10 coffees - but that doesn't matter. What matters is that you are working towards a 'virtual' or 'imaginary' goal of 9 stamps, by performing a particular behaviour in the real world. And you get rewarded 'virtually' by completing 10 stamps, and in the real world by getting another latte.


The education system is a great example of using game mechanics. There are levels (grade 1,2,3) that are get harder and more advanced as you skill and level up. You spend your time learning a new skill and then have a 'boss fight' at the end, in the form of an exam. You score points in this exam based on how well you do and get a badge or title (A+, B-, F). If you succeed, you get to proceed to the next level. And if you stick with it and do well, you even get a certificate at the end. 

We may have made school sound more fun than it is, or even given you some ideas for how to improve the scholastic experience. But the point is, you can see how game mechanics have been used to incentivise and reward particular types of behaviour. 


But don't think it stops there. Your career follows similar mechanics and dynamics. Whether it be an office job or an apprenticeship, you have a gameplay journey set out for you. There are levels that you have to work your way up. Each requires you to master a level of proficiency and meet a criteria of time. And you get rewarded through pay, bonuses, perks like offices and cars. As well as the social status and power, and the fancy title.  

If you stick at this game long enough, you can even become the highest level and win the game. 

Of course, not everyone wants to play or win at this game and that's ok; there are other games you can play instead, such as running your own business. But the point is, you are engaging in an experience that is designed, and it is designed based on incentives and rewards to get you to enact a particular behaviour. 

While these examples are not necessarily good or complex gamification, you can see how some of the mechanics and intentional designs of these experiences are similar to gamification. And you have already been experiencing and participating in these, even if you hadn't realised it before. 

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