There’s a confusion about the definition of gamification in the first place. Please clarify.

Yes, there is. One part of the confusion stems from mixing gamification, game-based learning, and game-based assessments. The other part is about “gamifying” anything such as learning. By gamifying content, learning designers often mean both gamification and game-based learning (also known as serious games).

While there’s many different take on defining gamification, in the session we introduced one of them:

“Use of game design elements in non-game contexts.” by Sebastian Deterding

This definition relies on the definition of a game. Let’s not open a can of worms here in an FAQ, but here’s a great write up on how you might define a game: Instead, let’s just think about games as a system: a system with rules, elements, players, goals, etc. A game usually has a start and an end. The end most likely is determined by the goal of the game. Between the start and end of the game, there is a GAMEPLAY. That is when players interact with elements of the game to reach their goal. One more important aspect of a game is that it is VOLUNTARY, and one of the motivation that keeps players in the gameplay is FUN.

Think of a bicycle as a system. It has elements (mechanics): cogs, wheel, spoke, etc. Nobody pees in their pants for excitement about spokes. When you get on a bike, it’s the gameplay. You interact with the system. While you’re peddling the elements are interacting with each other. Each element plays a role as you’re biking. This is what we call dynamics. Moving on a bike is more interesting than the parts. But it’s still not what people bike. The aesthetics, the feeling of “flying”, the social element a trip with others, that’s what makes it fun.

Now, learning (as in taking an elearning course) at the workplace usually does not include these three elements: voluntary gameplay for fun. So, it’s a non-game context. Hurray! Based on the definition, we can use gamification!

Gamification means you use game design elements (like cogs, spokes, wheels in the bicycle) in the context of learning. Remember! Nobody pees in their pants about cogs. Game design elements like points, badges, leaderboards are like cogs. You don’t start with cogs. You start with the vision: the aesthetics. How do I want my participants FEEL when they interact with the system (learning)?

This is really crucial: gamification is not about gameplay, it’s about motivation. In marketing, health care, sales, gamification is used to motivate people to DO something. In learning, it’s the same. But that DO is not taking a course. Gamification is not about motivating people to take your boring, irrelevant course. If it’s boring and irrelevant, do something about it first! Let’s gamify MEANINGFUL ACTIONS! Not content.

Let’s try this definition then:

Gamification is using game design elements in a non-game context such as learning in order to motivate people to do meaningful actions or make meaningful decisions followed by consequences and feedback to grow their relevant knowledge and skills.  



Comment on this FAQ

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *