Gamification: Gami… What?

What on earth is gamification? It’s just a way of naming something that we’ve been doing since we were kids. If I tell you that it is the application of game techniques in order to make tasks that are not very fun to begin with more entertaining, you will start to get the idea. But what if I tell you that when you make up a story so that a little boy will eat his spinach you are gamifying? The little boy won’t eat his spinach, but he will let a green 747 land in his mouth. And that precisely is gamification.

Gamification can serve to enjoy learning or as a way to make the effort of performing tasks that at first glance are not satisfying in themselves easier. A search for fun, self-suggestion, or even self-delusion… You can interpret it any way you like, but the fact is that our brains work best when the tasks to be performed are given a playful meaning.

You might think that gamification is a tool conceived by brainy engineers in collaboration with renowned psychologists in order to bind us and make us attracted to their perverse goals. This might be true, from a rather dark point of view, but from a more neutral standpoint, it’s just a tool that makes our life easier, given our nature. Like almost all of mankind’s inventions, gamification is an adaptation of something that already exists in nature: many animal species naturally tend to gamify their actions. For example, many animals learn how to fight by playing when young, acquiring experience and skill in something that will be crucial to their survival as adults. Education is something quite similar for human beings.

Gamification as a tool to increase user loyalty, and the ensuing increase in sales in various stores, already have a history in physical stores. A typical example is that of petrol stations and point cards. However, this is an example of gamification at its simplest, and in the virtual world its spread and development are not much greater.

Gamification is a tool to be developed in its various aspects, both from the educational and from the sales point of view.

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