Gamification. Is it really a silver bullet? 🤔

Gamification is often considered some kind of a silver bullet to motivate people to do something that would otherwise be deemed as boring. How does it really work and when should one avoid it? 🤔

In short gamification means bringing game-like elements to real world situations in order to provide the users with a boost in their motivation. Here the key term is motivation. 🔑 You see, motivation can be divided into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the greatest of the sources of motivation. If you are intrinsically motivated to do something, you will do it just because you like doing it. Just as simple as that. If you like writing, for example, you don’t need any other sources of motivation than a pen and a piece of paper. Of course, having inspiration is a whole different story. 😅

Extrinsic motivation comes from outside. If you only write because you have to finish an essay for school or because you are paid to do so, you are extrinsically motivated. Now, this is exactly the kind of motivation gamification gives. By points or badges, you are motivated to continue an activity you would otherwise lack the motivation of doing.

Some examples of gamification are the Finnish lottery company’s, Veikkaus’, marketing system in which you earn points and badges by watching their ads and answering to questions about them. Another well known example is Pokémon Go which awards you for walking long distances with wild Pokémon you just want to collect. 😃

At the heart of gamification, there are the PBLs, which is a short for points, badges and leader boards. By interacting with the system, you can earn virtual trophies, badges, and points that you can compare with other people. And in many cases, these simple ingredients of gamification have been successful in motivating people to do something they would consider boring. 🏆

However, it’s important to take into account the nature of the motivation gamification provides. If the users are already intrinsically motivated to do whatever they are doing, a source of extrinsic motivation is enough to kill the intrinsic one.😱  If I have earned all the “blogger’s badges” out there, why continue blogging? This question also points out the second problem of gamification. What if you have already earned all the badges you want or what if you get bored of the system? This is the point where the artificial layer of motivation just breaks into pieces and the motivational effect disappears. In short: gamification works for short periods of time and should be used only in the absence of true intrinsic motivation. Because you don’t want to replace intrinsic motivation with an extrinsic one.

When you understand these limitations, you can actually gain profit from gamification. ☺️ If you are interested in learning more about the topic, there’s a book I would totally recommend you to read called: For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business.

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new! 😊

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