Is Gamification Just The Latest Buzzword?

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Anybody old enough to have had a Palm Pilot in  2002, will remember buzzword bingo. Oh what fun it was to sit in meetings and wait for some hapless person to use the buzzwords of the day. Who cannot forget the dreadfulness of leverage, spearheading, running up a flagpole and so many toe curling others.

But gamification is different. These is more substance behind it. There is the pleasure principal: “People do things that are pleasurable and they avoid things they hate”. It is basic human nature. Addictive games such as Angry Birds plus popular items such as Facebook and the iPad have significantly raised user expectations.

The iPad is a huge game changer. No waiting time to boot up. No annoying start up menus.  A user can turn it on and check for recent messages in seconds. Users want immediately reactive technology. On these devices it is easier to check stats, look for updates, track progress and complete a lot of task based activities.

There is no trickery behind this and no need for more jargon, just basic principals:

  • Making something pleasurable to use
  • Focus on quick delivery in task based activities, (the workflow should be transparent)
  • Use design to make things engaging
  • Keep information light
  • Clever usage of  visual metaphors, icons and data visualisation
  • Incorporate social media behaviour –
  • Incentivise and give the user feedback
  • Make even boring tasks fun
  • Provide feedback – dashboards – performance charts
  • Compare people – engage users in a friendly sense of competition
  • Use rich interfaces while maintaining usability and accessibility standards
  • Consider HTML 5 or develop different interfaces for multiple devices


When Gartner starts talking about Gamification, you know that it cannot be ignored.

Unfortunaly it  may be only a matter of time before we start seeing, “I spearheaded the gamification initiative”, on CVs. Oh my.

Gamification experts are not needed. Like Social Media this a trend towards creating better experiences and meeting the evolving needs of users. It is not an isolated skill. Everyone can benefit from understanding the thinking behind it and blending  it in their every day work. For those of us who already have a game design background we are already there.Thanks for reading please share or leave a comment!

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