The exact definition of the term ‘Gamification’ seems to be one that people do not always agree upon. The general gist of the term is the same, but the devil is in the detail. Loosely put, Gamification is when you take an everyday activity and apply gaming principals – like earning points, gaining experience, unlocking levels and high scores – to it, to turn it into something that is fun to do.
The term was first coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling and has since been used by marketing companies, the education system, staff performance analysers, recruitment companies and the list goes on. One of the things that people do not generally agree upon is whether or not gamification is only applicable in an online or digital platform and if it is not only applicable in digital form then where else would you find it?
Old School Pen and Paper
Gamification has in fact been around for much longer than 2002. Pelling may have coined the term, but we have known the concept even since before Google was created. An easy way to understand how it works, would be to explain it in old school terms, as this can easily then be translated into the digital world that we live in.
Let’s go back to the days before mobile phone apps, when you had to dig deep into your wallet to find your local coffee or book shop loyalty card – or whichever loyalty card. This piece of paper was segmented into blocks and each time that you made a purchase, a block got stamped or signed by the cashier. When all your blocks where filled you earned a reward, such as a free item or a large discount on your next purchase.
Some loyalty cards even had rewards written in certain blocks on the card. This was then as if you were unlocking prizes or levels, as you went along to eventually fill your loyalty card. Aptly named then, the loyalty card with its game like features, helped to keep you loyal to that shop. Even though the example of a loyalty card is used here, this system was and is used by many industries including the education system. Your teacher rewarded you for every certain amount of gold stars that you earned.
From Paper to the Digital World
Today we are spoiled with mobile apps that just about rule our world. For everything that you need to do, you can most certainly find an app that can help you do it. So many of these apps work on the exact same principal as that crumply old loyalty card. What you do is being monitored by the data that you plug into the app. The app monitors your progress, and you get rewarded as you go along.
Gamification is being used all around us by just about everyone for just about anything. It is a great way to firstly motivate you to do something that might otherwise seem tedious and secondly, then to reward you for doing said tedious task. Turning everything that you do into a little miniature game.