Monday, January 27, 2014

»Gamification« – a new toll for business?

»Gamification« appears to be a new buiness approach to addressing learning challanges. It is a technology that owes it's roots to the entertainment industry, and is constantly rejuvenating itself. Simultaneously,is an exciting business model that is constantly pushing it's boundaries over normally accepted solutions. But, all the users that will be using »gamification« in business, especially for educational purposes, will need to understand that, real life is unpredicatable and nobody can program a game for it, nobody can be trained for it, except in the virtual realm. So, as the »Challange:Future« members indicated, students need hands-on experiences and high quality mentorship, that can prepare them for the unexpected.  The second challange related to  ethics is well raised by the the guest author later on. I am inviting you to think about it.

My thoughts: The winning model will be the one that will bring both experiences together in the best possible way for the trainees under their own initiatives.  But in order to join the learning techniques of the real and virtual worlds, one needs to know both of these realms well (pluses and minuses). Today we present Blaž's thought on »gemification«. Maybe we will explore the topic further together. Enjoy the reading.

Introduction to “gamification” By Blaž Branc

Photo: Blaž Branc
Source: personal archive

In this article I will present the fundamental idea of »”gamification”«.

Although the article aims to give a basic overview of the concept, it does provoke some of the more advanced questions and shares some insights and ideas, that might prove useful in applications in which »”gamification”« may prove a dynamic tool.
Could your organization of business benefit from “gamification”? Could it be something that you would want to get involved with yourself?

What is “gamification”

“Gamification” is the application of the thinking behind game-design and logic, to a process or a 'standard' way of learning/doing something.

“Gamification” is the use of game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. It can be used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, return on investment, data quality, appropriate timings, and learning (Herger, 2012)

The game concept

The basic qualities of any game, worth playing, are:
-    a game is played voluntarily,
-    it has rules that players accept (and agree upon),
-    it often improves player’s skill at achieving some (real-life) goal,
-    it shoul be fun and rewarding – possibly with a status and/or monetary gain.

Application-wise developers create desktop (physical) games, computer-desktop games, internet and social media games, games played on smart phones and tablets etc.

Mix a game with your goals that you achieve through people (employees, customers, society) and you might have an increase in the engagement and positive vibes about your own activities.

Popular applications

Most popular applications aim to explain a complex concept, teach and train newcomers in gaining skills, develop a desired mind set, boost competition (internally and externally; i.e. gamified sales force (competition), raise awarenss on different (social) topics, customer loyalty programmes etc.

Some examples

MeTycoon ( gamifies career-orientation counseling.
FoldIt ( gamifies protein folding in DNA. In just 10 days, players (over 240.000) have solved an issue that the scientist couldn't crack in 15 years!1
4Food ( gamifies creation of meals while it de-junks fast food!
FirmaKids ( gamifies the works of a company and explains the concept of running a business. So far, and to the knowledge of this author, the first and only Slovenian “gamification” example.


“Gamification” has been widely applied in marketing. Over 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies surveyed in 2013 said they planned to use “gamification” for the purposes of marketing and customer retention (Van Grove, 2011).

source:, captured January 2014

Google trends in Graph 1 show the rising trend of “gamification” (blue line), compared to declining trend of mobile marketing (red line).

Countries where we see the largest rise of interest in Singapore, Netherlands, India, Australia, USA and UK. Most frequent search queries are: “gamification” examples, “gamification” education and social “gamification”.

Could your product/service/method be gamified?

The answer is yes and no:
-    Yes: almost anything can be merged with game-design thinking.
   No: not everything is best-suited to be gamified. The trend has limits like every other. If you remember the trend of online forums installed on company websites, than you will remember that most of those never flourished and were soon discarded. I believe “gamification” will see a similiar fate.

Nevertheless, there is theory and a widely-accepted 'how to'. According to Yu-kai-chou, a pioneer in the field, there are 8 basic neccessary ingredients that every game should have to engage users, and have to require  extra effort on the part of the users in getting to know a (new) game.

Source: Yu-kai-chou blog2

Seeing “gamification” as the basic idea – reinterpreting something as a game – has perhaps the most to offer to most businesses and organization. Some of the games or rather »gamified« processes and methods, will have spilled over from one organization, reaching a wider, more general audience.


A question of ethics: is a salesman working for a company obliged to enter the gamified environment that will win a deal?

Playing a game to get a »plush bear« is always an act of a free will and fun; but playing a game to keep the job, is another situation altogether.
“Gamification”, in my view, is a powerful tool to engage a man's energy, interest and hopes. Because of that, organizations have quite a challenging ethical task ahead. Where will we draw a line?

Looking on “gamification” from a distant perspective, I conclude this introductionary article with the words of James P. Carse: »There is no (finite) game unless the players freely choose to play it. No one can play, who is forced to play. Whoever must play, cannot play. (Carse, 1986)«.

Want to take the next step at applying “gamification” and wish to further discuss this? Welcome to contact me at

Hvala, Blaž

Additional recommended sources:

Herger, Mario (May 21, 2012). "“gamification” Facts & Figures". Enterprise-”gamification”.com.

Van Grove, Jennifer (28 July 2011). "“gamification”: How Competition Is Reinventing Business, Marketing & Everyday Life". Mashable. Retrieved 12 February 2013.”gamification”


Carse, James P. (1986): Finite and infinite games: a vision of Life as play and possibility, Free Press, New York


How can we cooperate
Where can we meet globally?
Interesting links


    Metka said... (page 12)

    Gregor said...

    Vibacom said...

    Additional link:

    Stanford University on Gamification, Webinar 2/13: