We spend a lot of time playing games. The vast majority of us have at least a few time-killing games on our phones, and many of us have a gaming console (such as a Playstation or Xbox) in our home. But miles away from these arcade-style games is the concept of “gamification” – a concept wherein game mechanics are used in a non-game context.
Gamification can be seen across the internet in many of our most popular destinations. Sites such as Stackoverflow, Yahoo Answers, and Quora all offer some sort of gamification to entice users to use their site more. Generally it goes something like this: answer a question that another used has posed on the site, and you’ll get some number of points. If your answer is chosen by the question-poser as the best answer, you get even more points, and if others on the site also find your answer helpful, you can get even more points. This simple mechanic of doling out points encourages users to participate on the site, so they can get more points.
Apps such as Foursquare also use gamification to entice their users – allowing users to become the “mayor” of a particular location by visiting that location the most. Since users covet this prize, they will try to check in more frequently to get it – helping the business in question to gain customers! This is where the genius of gamification comes in: by adding a gamified element (checking in & getting a badge) to an everyday activity (such as visiting a coffeeshop) these services are able to get their users to be much more actively engaged.