Gamification is ‘the use of game design elements in non-game contexts’ (From game design elements to gamefulness: defining gamification, Deterding et al., 2011). By drawing upon game design elements, mechanics and techniques, organisations hope to engender, in work, the type of experience that we find motivating, engaging and fun when we play games. So, ultimately, it is about engaging and motivating people, which is why gamification is being used in diverse contexts such as learning and education, and marketing.
A useful foundation for gamification design can be to consider the nine Ps:
Purpose is the articulation of the organisational objective that you are trying to achieve. Personal motivation is about making the experience meaningful by tapping into the intrinsic motivation of the players.
Performance is concerned with the judging of success, for example, behaviour change, and giving feedback.
Progression is designing suitable levels of challenge for players of different abilities, and participation is about ensuring the game appeals to players, for example, by targeting different types of fun.
Partnerships considers the ways players might work together, such as collaboration or competition, and player potential is what you aim to unlock.
Player is about understanding the target audience and also making choices about their role in the game, for example, do they play as themselves.
Finally, good gamification design is about getting right the politics in terms of the fit with the workplace and its culture.
Brian Burke, an analyst at Gartner, opines that: “Gamification has tremendous potential, but right now most companies aren’t getting it right” (How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things, 2014). Yet, there is increasing evidence that gamification does work so what does it make it right? Regrettably, there are no easy answers but good gamification design will certainly contribute to the success of its use in the workplace.
Dr Penny Simpson is principal lecturer at Brighton Business School