Friday, August 30, 2013

Monitoring Players Activities in Gamified Systems

The most popular definition of gamification is the widely quoted definition from Deterding, Dixon, Khaled and Nacke (2011): “the use of design elements characteristic for games in non-game contexts”. This definition can be extended to the use of game design elements in non-game contexts, to drive game like engagement in order to promote desired behaviours.

A gamified system can then be defined as any non-game context with the addition of game elements. The purpose of a gamified system is to engage users and influence their behaviours in order to reach the system’s objectives more efficiently.

A Gamified System
If the context is digital, then the gamified system is some software application incorporating those game elements. The system can be a website or a web application. It can run on a server and be accessed by a computer with a web browser or it can be an app running on a smartphone storing data in the cloud. The system can be built as a gamified system from the start or some piece of gamification software can be added to an existing application. 

If the context is non-digital, a software system can be used to support the addition of the game elements and to monitor users’ activities. The software system may rely on specific devices or other applications to get the data from the non-digital context or it may need the intervention of a human user.

The users of gamified systems, those whose behaviours are to be changed, are called players. Players may have an active or a passive role in their relation to the system. If the context is non-digital, mediators are needed, either human users or some specific device. The system might have other kind of non-player users that act as mediators between the system and the non-game context. Players themselves can also act as mediators having an active role within the gamified system.

In digital non-game contexts, gamification platforms like PunchTab, Uplaude or CaptainUp provide tools to power websites, blogs and web applications. These tools can be simple add-ons or plug-ins to monitor and reward the players’ activities. In this approach, users take a passive role since they cannot control what is monitored and just let the system watch their actions.

Systems like Nike+, a well-known example of gamification, are non-game, non-digital contexts where a device (a smartphone or other specific device from Nike) act as a mediator, monitoring players' (runners) activities. Another similar example is Zamzee, targeting a younger audience.

ClassDojo is an example of a gamified system, where the non-game context is non-digital (a classroom) and a special user (the teacher) monitors the players' (students) activities. ChoreWars is a another example where the special user can also be a player.

Lift is a gamified system where players through the web or using an app, can set personal goals to improve their habits (like doing more exercise or drinking more water, the top popular habits). Each player's achievements can be shared with other players. Lift is an example where the players themselves act as mediators, monitoring and registering their own activities. Foodzy is another system where the players act as mediators.

(this post is based in a paper recently presented at the PLE Conference 2013 in Berlin - Simões, Redondo, Díaz, Vilas & Aguiar (2013); see also this other post).


Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R., & Nacke, L. (2011). From Game Design Elements to Gamefulness: Defining “Gamification, Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference Envisioning Future Media Environments.

Simões, Jorge; Redondo, Rebeca Díaz; Vilas, Ana Fernández; Ademar Aguiar (2013). Using Gamification to Improve Participation in a Social Learning Environment. In: THE PLE CONFERENCE 2013, 2013. Berlim. The PLE Conference 2013 Proceedings (to be published)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Call for Papers: “Rethinking Gamification”

Could be interesting ...

a handbook edited by 
Mathias Fuchs, Niklas Schrape, Sonia Fizek and Paolo Ruffino.

The Gamification Lab at the Centre for Digital Cultures in Lüneburg, Germany,  invites scholars, artists, designers and thinkers to critically question gamification and propose alternatives to the dominant models that have been framing this concept. The project will expand the outcome of the Rethinking Gamification workshop held in May 2013 at the Gamification Lab in Lüneburg, which involved a group of 15 international scholars and artists.
We expect proposals to critically analyse gamification. If interested, please send extended abstracts (1.000 words) for full length papers (8.000 words), to be completed (if accepted) by mid-December 2013. The final papers will be published in Spring 2014.

It is also worth to see the videos on Gamification Lab website and the related papers. They are contributions for the workshop Rethinking Gamification that took place on May 2013.

One of the papers is from Scott Nicholson: Exploring the Endgame of Gamification. He has beem working on meaningful gamification (see this other post) and he has his own RECIPE:
  • Reflection – creating situations where users reflect to discover personal connections with the real-world setting;
  • Exposition – using narrative and user-created stories to create deeper connections to the real-world setting;
  • Choice – allowing the user to select paths and develop goals within the real-worldsetting that are more meaningful to him or her;
  • Information – providing the user with information about the connections between the gamification activities and the real-world setting;
  • Play – creating a safe space and set of boundaries where the user can choose how he or she wishes to engage with different gamification activities in the real-world setting;
  • Engagement – using the gamification system to connect users to a community of practice that surrounds the real-world setting.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gartner Hype Cycle: Gamification and Big Data in 2012 and 2013

Gamification and Big Data walk along together (see this other post about the Horizon Report 2013 - Higher Education Edition and also Four Approaches to Collecting Data in Gamified Systems). It is also worth to look at what Gartner predicts about the future of these two technologies. In the 2013 edition of Gartner's Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies (which I got from here, a link shared by Andrzej Marczewski) and in the 2012 edition we can see how the two technologies are evolving. They are now both at the top of the "peak of inflated expectations" (Gamification is a little ahead). They have an horizon of 5 to 10 years to reach the "plateau of productivity" (in 2012, Big Data was in the 2 to 5 years horizon).

Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2012

 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2013

And to end, a funny video about how gamification is already part of our lives ...


The video is from Designing Digitally, a company providing solutions for E-Learning programs, 3D training simulations and virtual worlds development.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Next Gamification Events

A list of the next gamification events shared among GamFed members:
  • Gamifiers event in London on September 18th 
  • GSummitX in New York on September 10th

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gamification of Education: Recent Links

Some recent links about gamification of education:

4 Ways To Bring Gamification of Education To Your Classroom (from TopHat): some ways to use gamification in the classroom.

"Games, in any form, increase motivation through engagement. Nowhere else is this more important than education."

" ... gamification in learning is the use of game mechanics to ‘gamify’ content to engage and entice users by encouraging and rewarding use."
"What does the successful application of gamification in e-learning look like?
1. Gamification isn’t about games, but the learners.
2. It isn’t about knowledge but behaviour.
3. It extracts the motivational techniques out of games and uses them for life-applicable learning.
4. It allows quick feedback of progress and communications of goals that need to be accomplished."

... and a new definition for gamification in learning contexts, from Razvan Rughinis in Gamification for Productive Interaction, Reading and Working with the Gamification Debate in Education (see this other post) presented at CISTI 2013 (proceedings available):

"Gamification in learning contexts represents simple gameplay to support productive interaction for expected types of learners and instructors."