The Two Aspects of Gamification

August 8, 2011

Games are all about fun. We play them because we are competitive by nature and we feel challenged through them, because we can risk it all in games and lose nothing in the real world, because games are a welcome break from our daily routine and, most importantly, because we get a feeling of accomplishment when we make progress in a game.

These are surely not the only reasons, but from a psychological viewpoint, these are some of the main motivators why people play games.

Gamification, or motivational design, is all about engagement. It means using the motivation that is inherent to games for e.g. increasing someone’s productivity and for enforcing a certain behavior by integrating game mechanics and dynamics into an existing activity.

While games are a great tool for increasing engagement, in order to be effective, we have to think about the following two aspects first:

1) Are we increasing the level and intensity of an already existing behavior?
2) Do we want to initiate new behavior?

These two points do not necessarily counter one another as many businesses need gamification to meet both aspects. The “mix ratio” of these two aspects however often depends on whether people are engaging in the process of our interest in their leisure time or if they are engaging in this specific process at work.

Here at Motiviti we are researching and implementing practical applications of gamification techniques both in business environments such as call centers, as well as on websites that users often visit outside of work hours.

In reality, this means that a call center company for instance would want to give its operators additional motivation independent from their salary in order to motivate above average work results – i.e. intensifying an already existing behavior.

Owners of a website with entertaining content, however, might want their visitors to post more links to the website on social networks instead of just browsing through the content. This means initiating new behavioral patterns.

In both cases, we want to get end results that benefit our businesses but we have to bear in mind that there is a basic difference in the individual behavior of visitors of a website and workers in a call center.

The first browse the website to have fun and we want to motivate them to do something they aren’t necessarily inclined to at the moment – while the latter are performing the same work anyway because it is their job, and what we can do is infuse fun and purpose in the otherwise monotonous daily routine in order to achieve better work results.

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