by Holly Pigache 

July 29, 2020

Kids playing computer games. Gamification

(Written by Emma Henry with Holly Pigache)

In our digital age there’s the constant need to future-proof products and to keep up with the latest trends, such as adding gamification to a product, thereby improving the market appeal and reaching a wider audience. Surely ‘gamification’ is as simple as building a game that connects to the academic content?!  “No,” says our Creative Director, Game Designer and Gamification Specialist, Emma Henry. Here, she tells us about the similarities and differences between these two seemingly-identical concepts and shares with us how to effectively implement both into edtech products.

“Gamification isn’t just adding a game or a leader board,” says Emma, “you need to know what you want to achieve before adding gamification elements.” As a concept, gamification is “really very simple. In a nutshell, it’s the application of elements found typically in game playing, such as point scoring, levelling up and keeping leader boards.  These elements might be used in an area such as marketing to encourage customer engagement with the chosen product or service.”

What do we mean by game elements?  Well, let’s take a game like Super Mario.  In these games, players collect coins, level up with stars and different abilities, are rewarded by rescuing the princess (eventually) and gain prestige by speeding through each level to gain the highest score on the leader board.

“Here’s an example of gamification in marketing.  Take two major coffee shop brands, let’s call them Kostar and Moonbucks.  They each have loyalty schemes whereby customers accumulate points or stamps which can be redeemed against subsequent coffee purchases.  If you were to have a loyalty card for Kostar instead of Moonbucks, you are more likely to suggest Kostar over Moonbucks for coffee and cake with a friend as you know you can collect points and you may even have enough points for a free piece of carrot cake.  In this instance, Kostar coffee has influenced your decision-making process by introducing this system.” This is gamification as small elements of gaming are introduced into the Kostar and Moonbucks customer-service experience. There’s no princess rescuing in Moonbucks, but accrued stamps can be ‘spent’ to “rescue a chocolate cake from the confines of a cake display from the evil clutches of the barista!” Through adding these typical game elements, companies encourage a customer to stay loyal to the brand and spend their money there.

“Gamification can be used in many different sectors for different reasons, such as in education, training, healthcare, the workplace and business.  And gamification can be applied anywhere if you understand your objective.”

“One mistake people have in education is thinking adding a game will make the learning more fun.  Yes, I’m sure the students will find the game lots of fun but does adding a game achieve your required objective? It’s about psychology,” Emma claims. “You have to understand what motivates people, in Game Design there are 4 types of players:

  1. Achievers – Need to win and be the best
  2. Explorers – Need to find something new
  3. Socialisers – Need to interact with others
  4. Killers – Need to eliminate other characters

For gamification, especially in education we mostly focus on the first three types: achievers, explorers and socialisers.” By having an idea of player-types and knowing the audience you’re targeting, you can determine the aims and objectives of adding a game or gamification elements to your edtech product. 

Following research into the basic principles of what makes a successful game, you can then think about your gamification strategy plan, which must cover the following:

1.    Establish your required learning objective

2.    Research and understand the consumer/audience

3.    Choose the correct system/game element to use based on the first two points above

4.    Establish clear criteria of what needs to be done as well as a straightforward guide to the rules of play.

Emma notes it is important that the gamification is fit for purpose and not overly complex; sometimes, adding all elements of a game can undermine the functionality and the overall objective and make it too complicated and therefore unattractive to end-users.

To find out more about Games and Gamification, get in touch with Emma here.

About the author 

Holly Pigache

An avid reader and fanatical writer, I've always got a pen behind my ear, a book in my handbag and articles forming in my head. My phone is bursting with notes for article ideas, my blogging website constantly has ten drafts being written and my bedside table has a trillion books on it (all dogeared and annotated). It looks chaotic, but I'm a writer.

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