By our very nature human beings engage in games of all types. We like games. We may not all like the same type or style of game but we as a species like games. Early archaeology has unearthed rudimentary dice as old as 3000BC in the Americas and elegantly carved board game pieces in Turkey from 2900BC, so clearly this penchant for games was alive and well many moons ago. More recently games were used by military tacticians to develop the skills of officer recruits from 1780 onward with Helwig then Von Reisswitz and the introduction of Kreigsspiel in the 19th century. Stepping forward in time, by 1956 businesses and the US Airforce utilised programmes such as Top Management Decision Simulation and the US military started to use a modified version of the computer game Doom in 1998. To this day both are stalwart supporters of the efficacy of computer games and gaming as part of military training.
In education by the 1960s the concept of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) was coined and this drill and practice approach matured over subsequent decades to become adventure formatted games with titles from Lucas Learning and The Learning Company. Research and revenues point to a decline in the Edutainment industry during the 1990s, perhaps in part due to the word “game” having and continuing to have a negative connotation. Nevertheless this is now to a degree rebounding, not least influenced by the ubiquity of handheld devices and is likely to see significant growth. An introduction to the more recent inculcations of gaming and in particular, from an IT perspective, the rise of the Massively Massively Multi-user Online Gaming (MMOG) is provided on the MMOG pages of this website.
The best evidence suggests that the term “gamification” joined our vernacular some time during 2004 but did not become popular as a word to describe the underlying concept until 2010. Clearly this section of the website is aligned to the study and investigation of “gamification” and if you’ve navigated to this area then there is a high probability that you are also interested in this concept. As one of the four areas of convergence it is contended that this concept is, and will continue, to drive a revolutionary shift in perception for businesspersons, politicians, educators, scholars, researchers, scientists and just about everyone over the coming decade.
In short, it is about harnessing the hugely powerful human emotions and psychological phenomena evidenced in game playing to drive increased engagement, performance and productivity. In length, it is the application of game design, game methodologies, game approaches, and game mechanics to non-game situations for a multiplicity of purposes of, including but not limited to:
While the end goals for those who integrate gamification into their technological and operational processes differ, for instance in:
the mechanisms for realisation remain ostensibly the same. Clearly the breadth of audience for how and where gamification can be used is enormous. The core point though is that embarking on a gamification initiative means carefully determining the specific “success measure” and understanding the particular “use cases” which are applicable. From the evidence to date, nothing is surer than if used in the wrong context gamification is far from a panacea and may have unfortunate negative consequences.
It was identified earlier that gamification is about harnessing the hugely powerful human emotions and psychological phenomena evidenced in game playing to drive increased engagement, performance and productivity. At the outset of a gamification programme the question arises as to what are these powerful emotions and why are they significant? This point goes to the heart of the matter and underpins every aspect of the design effort. The greater the emotional involvement elicited in the player the greater the enjoyment factor of the player and, in theory, the greater the outcome for the programme.
This area of research is founded in psychology and in particular in our (as yet nascent) understanding of motivation. There have been many research projects in academia to investigate the underlying motivators of behaviour, whether they are by nature or by nurture, with often surprising and unexpected results:
This learning (and much more) over many decades delivers insights in the nature of human motivation and its linkage to behaviour. Fostering as much of a grounding as possible in these psychological sciences is critical for both game and gamification designers. At a minimum, designers should be well versed in:
For much more on developing an understanding Gamification use the download links below. The papers go through in much more detail:
This short paper broadens the introduction above to outline in more detail the essential characteristics of Gamification.Read More
This document provides a full scale deep dive into the domain of Gamification. In addition, this document outlines a concept based on the convergence of game analytics with gamification to deliver a potential mechanism for monetizing motivation.Read More