Monday, May 26, 2014

A Brief History of Gamification: Part VII - The Definitions (Again and Again)

The debate about what the definition for gamification should be is far from being over. After the definition from Brian Burke and Gartner  (see A Brief History of Gamification: Part V - The Definitions (Again) ), more definitions saw the light of day:

publish in his blog the post Defining gamification – what do people really think? where he presents an "average definition" for gamification: creating more game-like experiences in non game contexts. He points that this definition "does not include anything about why or how, just what it is". His proposal results from an average of a list of other definitions (some from  gamification gurus), looking at the most common concepts present. He concludes by saying "we are all trying to make more engaging experiences for people using ideas that games have been using forever".

A different approach is proposed by Rajat Paharia, the founder of Bunchball, in A New Day for Gamification, or Is It? For him, gamification is motivating people through data. He comments on Burke's definition stressing that it could be enhanced with less emphasis on game language, avoiding the use of terms like "players". For Paharia, gamification is not about games and not about play. He even quotes Brian Burke about gamification not being about fun. In short, Rajat Paharia's view of gamification is very enterprise and business related and gamification is more than that.

Finally, and recently, Kevin Werbach, the man behind the well-known MOOC on gamification, has a paper ((Re)Defining Gamification: A Process Approach) discussing and explaining his new definition: the process of making activities more game-like. The main change here is the notion of gamification as a process. In Werbach's view, his definition "creates a better fit between academic and practitioner perspectives". Most definitions rely on the use of game elements, in what he calls the elemental definitions, Using game elements in non-game contexts is not the same as transforming that context into something more game-like. To do that, a process is needed. The process can transform the activities to be more or less game-like. Therefore, the frontier between gamified and non-gamified settings is wider. He points that in education, the fact that a point system is used (the grades), it is  not possible to say that school activities (e.g. examinations) are gamified. At least, it means that education is a good non-game context that can be gamified as others mentioned (e.g. Lee and Hammer's Gamification in Education: What, How, Why Bother?). Werbach's definition is also aligned with the "average" definition from Marczewski.

Could the new Kevin Werbach's definition replace the widely used definition from Deterding et al., the use of game design elements in non-game contexts?
Some final remarks about what is gamification:
  • It is not the same as games, but it is about games. If it is not about games, why call it gamification in the first place? If it is about games, the users of gamified applications can be called players, to highlight the idea, but this is probably not very important.
  • Is is not clearly just about digital engagement. Is is about engagement, regardless of the medium, with a digital or non-digital approach. But digital tools can be very helpful.
  • It is not about play, but it must feel as play, and it must be fun (how to define fun, anyway?). The importance of fun is the reason of the concept's name, the fun part of games, that lead to gamification.
  • Data plays a central role in a gamification process because it drives the relation between the gamified application and the players. Again, digital tools can be very helpful.
  • And it has a clear purpose: motivate people to change their behaviors and feelings about something that is not a game and is perceived as boring, unchallenging or without value. Making the thing (some activity in a non-game context) more game-like, by using what games have that can be used outside games, can engage people and motivate them to act properly regarding the thing's objectives.
All these definitions make their contributions: Burke with the focus on motivation and engagement as the purpose of gamification, Paharia with the focus on data and Werbach and Marczewski with the focus on the process of creating game-like experiences.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What is Gamification? A Short Whiteboard Video, Posted by Karl Kapp

A video with a definition for gamification, the origin of gamification and some predictions by Karl Kapp (published in this post). The definition is applied to learning and instruction and is based on the same ideas of the latest Karl Kapp's book on the subject (see this other post). The differences between gamification, learning games and simulations are also presented.

The video includes also Kapp's notions of structural gamification and content gamification:
  • Structural gamification: the application of game elements to propel a learner through content with no alterations or changes to that content, only the structure around the content
  • Content gamification: the application of game elements, game mechanics and game thinking to alter content to make the content more game like.

See also these posts about the history of gamification:

A Brief History of Gamification: Part I - The Origin
A Brief History of Gamification: Part II - The Name
A Brief History of Gamification: Part III - The Definitions
A Brief History of Gamification: Part IV - The Evolution
A Brief History of Gamification: Part V - The Definitions (Again)
A Brief History of Gamification: Part VI - The Predictions

Friday, May 09, 2014

A Brief History of Gamification: Part VI - The Predictions

Since gamification, as a new buzzword and a popular term in digital media, hit the mainstream, several advisory and research companies, consulting firms and others start to draw some forecasts about the future of gamification. Most of them use the concept in marketing and enterprise perspective and state how gamification will impact business.


Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company, stated that
  • In 2014 most companies will have at least one gamified application.
Since 2011, Gartner added gamification to its “hype cycle for emergent technologies”, pointing for a period of 5 to 10 years for mainstream adoption. Before 2011, gamification was not yet part of the cycle (see the 2010 Hype Cycle).

Gartner uses hype cycles to track technology adoption: after the “peak of inflated expectaions” pe- riod, technologies will fall into the “trough of disillusionment”. Then, they will start evolving to the “slope of enlightenment” and some of them will reach the “plateau of productivity”. By 2013, gamification was at the “peak of inflated expectations”.

"We think it is still on track (...) In our 2013 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, we place gamification at the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’. We continue to believe it will move into the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ in 2014." (Brian Burke, Gartner's research vice president).

M2 Research

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank predicts the market size of gamification to $4.2-5.3 billion within the enterprise space only (source).

Markets and Markets

M&M, a market research company and consulting firm, predicted that the gamification market is estimated to grow from $ 421.3 million in 2013 to $5.502 billion in 2018.


The IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, said last February, that their members anticipate that 85 percent of our lives will have an integrated concept of gaming in the next six years. While video games are seen mainly for their entertainment value in today’s society, industries like healthcare, business and education will be integrating gaming elements into standard tasks and activities, making us all gamers (source).

They did not say how they get this insight from their members.

Pew Research Center and Elon University

A May 2012 Pew Research Center and Elon University survey of more than 1,000 Internet experts and users showed that they were about evenly split on gamification’s future: 53% believed it would become widespread with some limits, while 42% said it would not transform into a larger trend except in specific situations (source). 

The experts answered the question: Will the use of gamification, game mechanics, feedback loops, and rewards to spur interaction and boost engagement, buy-in, loyalty, fun, and/or learning continue to gain ground and be implemented in many new ways in people’s digital lives between now and 2020? (source)

Other predictions for 2014:

No longer just hype, gamification will emerge as a powerful engagement tool to increase customer loyalty and conversions. Major global corporations from Oracle to American Express are already diving head first into gamification, with Oracle gamifying their annual Open World conference in late 2013, and American Express betting big on gamification for customer engagement and employee compliance. Businesses are understanding that gamification is much more than “PBL” points-badges-leaderboards, and instead a powerful program which requires nurturing over time to continue increasing relevant and high-value user behavior, and ultimately long-term engagement (source).

The report The Future of Gamification from the Pew Research Center and Elon University also stated that some scholars and educators, too, have become interested in harnessing the potential of gaming mechanics and sensibilities as tools for advancing learning. A “serious gaming” movement has arisen to apply gaming techniques to such realms as military and corporate and first-responder training programs, civilization and environmental ecology simulations, K-12 educational programs on subjects like math and history and the sciences, news events and public policy campaigns, problem-solving strategies in the natural sciences, and even physical exercise programs

The Horizon Report 2014 - Higher Education Edition points to a two to three years time-to-adoption horizon for the adoption of gamification in the higher education field: While a growing number of educational institutions and programs are experimenting with game-play, there has also been increased attention surrounding gamification — the integration of gaming elements, mechanics, and frameworks into non-game situations and scenarios. Businesses have embraced gamification as a way to design incentive programs that engage employees through rewards, leader boards, and badges, often with a mobile component. Although more nascent than in military or industry settings, the gamification of education is gaining support among educators who recognize that effectively designed games can stimulate large gains in productivity and creativity among learners."

Accurate or not, these predictions brought new highlights for gamification that become a new trend, not only in business, but in many other areas, like education and training. We are in the middle of 2014. Let's wait and see if the 2014 forecasts are accurate.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Statistics for the 2014 Coursera Gamification MOOC

Professor Kevin Werbach released a video with some statistics for the 2014 edition of his Coursera Gamification MOOC that ended in April. These courses were already mentioned before in this blog (A Brief History of Gamification: Part IV - The Evolution):

Also with an increasing number of scholars and professionals becoming interested in the concept, along with the general public, the online learning platform Coursera launched in August 2012, a MOOC on gamification, lectured by Kevin Werbach, an Associate Professor from the University of Pennsylvania. The course had more than 80.000 registered students with further editions in 2013 (with 66.000 students) and January 2014 (with 78.000 registrations). After the first edition of the course, Werbach co-authored the book For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business.

The video seems to be only available for those who registered in the course. Here are some of the main statistics:

A big number of registrations but only a small percentage actually concluded the courses successfully. Still, a great number (around 4500 students).

And the final remarks:

"Gamification is still a new field and MOOCs are still a new form of learning."

Friday, May 02, 2014

CHI PLAY 2014: Call for Participation

CHI PLAY is a new international and interdisciplinary conference (by ACM SIGCHI) for researchers and professionals across all areas of play, games and human-computer interaction (HCI). We call this area "player-computer interaction". 

The goal of the conference is to highlight and foster discussion of current high quality research in games and HCI as foundations for the future of digital play. To the end, the conference will feature streams that blend academic research and games with research papers, interactive demos, and industry case studies.

CHI PLAY grew out of the increasing work around games and play emerging from the ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) as well as smaller conferences such as Fun and Games and Gamification. CHI PLAY is sponsored by the ACM Special Interest Group for Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI).

Important Dates (Submission Deadlines):
  • May 18, 2014: Full papers (talks/demos/videos) and workshops
  • June 26, 2014 Student competition, courses and tutorials, panels, doctoral consortium, industry case studies and works-in-progress
  • Game Interaction
  • Novel Game Control
  • Novel Implementation Techniques that Affect Player Experience
  • Evaluation of Feedback and Display Technologies for Games
  • Gamification
  • Neurogaming
  • Persuasive Games
  • Games for Health, Learning and Change
  • Exertion Games
  • Player Experience
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality Games
  • Games User Research
  • Game Evaluation Methods
  • Psychology of Players and Games
  • Player Typologies
  • Accessible and Inclusive Game Design
  • Novel Game Mechanics Impacting Player Experience
  • Casual Game Design Studies
  • Social Game Experiences
  • Serious Games
  • Alternate Reality GamesTools for Game Creation
  • Developer Experiences and Studies of Developers
  • Industry Case Studies