My last weeks were full of discussions about what Gamification is and what it is not. I tried to separate what I believe Gamification should be from business activities like bonus programs and so on. For me, these were just loyality programs and so, far below the ambitions that I believe Gamification should have.
But honestly? I was wrong.
Not about its ambitions but how everything is connected. By remembering the official definition of gamification (the use of game design elements, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts) we see that it also matches with e.g. loyality programs.
This helped me to the get to the awareness that it is not about ‘what is Gamification and what it is not’ but I recognized that we have a chronological evolution of Gamification (also of course dependent on our technological progress).
So, after my first draft I came up with this:
Gamification 1.0: Bonus programs (e.g. Payback; buy something, get points and redeem these points to get something else.)
Gamification 1.5: Status programs (e.g. Frequent-Flyer-Program; it adds the rewars of status to bonus programs.)
Gamification 2.0: Simulations (e.g. Flight simulator; using a virtual world to exercise real world activities.)
Gamification 3.0: Serious games (e.g. fold.it; Using a video game to solve real world society problems.)
Gamification 4.0: Motivational-design
Transporting ‘game-design-thinking’ combined with ‘motivational & behavior psychology’ into reality by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, by helping to solve problems step by step, and by taking advantage of humans psychological predisposition to engage in gaming. If it is done right, the participants might not even realize they are playing a game but experience similar positive emotions, strong social relationships and a sense of accomplishments and a sense of purpose like they already know it from playing games.
Of course there are more possible breakdowns but, for me, these were the most obvious ones.
What do you think? Am I missing an important one? Or would you change the chronological order? Feel free to comment or to get in touch for an engaging dicussion ;-).
At the end I would like to suggest the defintion of gamification from Dr. Michael Wu (the Principal Scientist of Analytics at Lithium.com) because he adds an important element:
“Gamification is the use of game attributes to drive game-like behavior in a non-game context.”
…a game-like behavior. Perhaps this is it what I mean if I want to seperate ‘Motivational design’ from loyality programs. A game that provides points for an activity that isn’t really challenging won’t create a long-term engagement and a feeling of accomplishment and fun by its users.
So, if we think about the potential of games and what they are able to achieve concerning emotional experiences, than we are talking about Gamification 4.0. But I have to admit that sometimes it is smart to start with 1.0 🙂