Gamification: The Pursuit of Progression

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM: Samantha Stahlke of the HCI Games Group \\ ORIGINALLY POSTED: JUNE 10, 2015

A great article that pulls apart the term gamification, discusses gamification design, and then finishes by looking at a few interesting examples.

Game-ification: to transform into a game.

If creative commons internet linguistics resources are to be believed, the suffix -ification means ‘to become’, and is of Latin and French origin. You can see why the definition sparks so many debates. What exactly makes something “gamelike”? Are there different degrees of “gameness”?

What should and should not be gamified?

A quick internet search reveals that the vast majority of gamification is aimed at making “healthy” or “productive” tasks more entertaining. But don’t we usually use the word “productive” to describe something that consists of work, and “work” typically describes something that is only done because it needs to be done, for economic reasons or otherwise. The very nature of work itself then calls into question the applicability of games as a delivery medium, since the so-called lusory attitude generally states that players engage in games not out of necessity, but for the enjoyment of the experience.

Kaleidoscope of Effective Gamification.

Habit RPG

HabitRPG, a gamified service. In essence, it is a fairly complex to-do list, spruced up with customization, themed collectibles, and social features. It’s fairly easy to get into, and seemingly addictive, with a simple, straightforward premise: set your own goals, and earn trinkets and prestige for completing them.

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run!, an app that abandons traditional point-based systems to motivate exercise by immersing users in an intermittent zombie apocalypse during their workout.

Chore Wars

Chore Wars, an old-style Dungeons and Dragons-esque game for knocking out housework. The integration of social family features promises to create some interesting household dynamics.


Duolingo, an app designed to assist in learning a new language through simple activities and reward mechanics. I found this one particularly interesting because it focused on acquiring new knowledge, rather than on work or exercise like many other apps.

Be sure to check out the original post by Samantha Stahlke to read the whole article

Stahlke, S. (2015). Gamification: The Pursuit of Progression. Retrieved 17 July, 2015 from

Kappen, D.L. Nacke, L.E. (2013). The Kaleidoscope of Effective Gamification: Deconstructing Gamification in Business Applications. Retrieved 17 July, 2015 from

Anatomy of Fun

People play games because they are a source of fun. So what is fun? And how can I put it into my gamified learning app.

There are several well known theories on “fun”, any of the following types of fun can be combined with others to create a richer player experience.


In Nicole Lazzaro’s theory of fun she states that there are four different kinds of fun that are general categories that appear in any kind of game-like context (hard fun, easy fun, people fun and serious fun).(Werbach, 2013)

Each of the four types of fun unlock different types of player experiences.Nicole Lazzaro states that games that use emotions from four types of interactions are more likely to capture attention and motivate play.

Nicole Lazzaro's 4 Kinds of Fun
Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 Kinds of Fun


While Marc LeBlanc believes there are 8 kinds of fun (sensation, fantasy, narrative, challenge, fellowship, discovery, expression, and submission).(ibid)


And professor Kevin Werbach lists 14 elements of fun (winning, problem solving, exploring, chilling, team work, recognition, triumphing, collecting, surprise, imagination, sharing, role playing, customisation and goofing off).These emotional components of the experience are what makes games engaging.(ibid)


And Pierre-Alexandre Garneu lists 14 forms of fun (Beauty, Immersion, Intellectual Problem Solving, Competition, Social Interaction, Comedy, Thrill of Danger, Physical Activity, Love, Creation, Power, Discovery, Advancement and Completion, Application of an Ability).(Heeter, Chu, Maniar, Winn, Mishra, Egidio, & Portwood-stacer, 2004)

Jon Radoff 43 Fun Things

In Jon Radoff’s book “Game On” he lists 43 things that people find fun. He also created a table linking his list of fun things with Dr. Steven Reiss 16 basic human motivators.(Whatley, 2011)

Dr. Steven Reiss 16 basic human motivators

The 16 Basic Desires Theory is a theory of motivation proposed by Steven Reiss, Psychology and Psychiatry professor. After conducting studies involving more than 6,000 people, Reiss found that 16 basic desires guide nearly all meaningful behavior (Independence, curiosity, acceptance, order, saving, honor, idealism, social contact, family, status, vengeance, romance, eating, physical exercise, and tranquility).

“These desires are what drive our everyday actions and make us who we are,” Reiss said. “What makes individuals unique is the combination and ranking of these desires.”(Manrique, 2013)

The Problem with Fun

However there are some problems with focusing on “fun” as the only method of creating the players experience. As Dustin DiTommaso (2011) says “Fun is too diluted of a concept. It doesn’t distinguish the unique psychological experience of gameplay that leads to sustained engagement.”

DiTommasco, D. (2011). Beyond Gamification: Architecting Engagement Through Game Design Thinking. Retrieved 18 June, 2014 from Beyond Gamification: Architecting Engagement Through Game Design Thinking

Heeter, C., Chu, K., Maniar, A., Winn, B., Mishra, P., Egidio, R., & Portwood-stacer, L., (2004). Comparing 14 Plus 2 Forms of Fun in Commercial Versus Educational Space Exploration Digital Games. Michigan Stat University. Retrieved 5 April, 2014, from

Lazzaro. N. (n.d.). The 4 Keys 2 Fun.

Manrique, V. (2013). Why people play games – Happiness, Motivation & Fun.

Whatley, S. (2011). 43 Things That Customers Think Are Fun.

Werbach, K. (2013). 3.5 Anatomy of Fun (7:02 minutes). Retrieved from Coursera Gamification course.

5 Questions to Ask About Gamification


The term gamification refers to “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts.” (Deterding et al.) The non-game contexts imply that gamification is different than games and can be applied to society, business, technology and individuals at various levels.

Gartner goes a step further and defines gamification to be “the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.” Essentially what this means is that gamification is used to change the norms, attitudes and habits of individuals and organizations from a current state to a desired future state typically through the utilization of technology. Generally speaking, the use of gamification in the organization can be categorized into external uses (e.g., customer engagement) and internal uses (e.g., employee engagement).

In order for organizations to effectively leverage gamification as a game changer, they have to ask the following questions:


In the Future

Who is using gamification externally and internally? Who should be using gamification externally and internally?
What is gamified? What should be gamified?
Where it is being used? Where it should be used?
When are gamified types of activities are happening? When should gamified types of activities be happening?
Why it is becoming a competitive advantage? Why you should be using it as a competitive advantage?

When you are asking the above questions across all levels of the organization, here are few things to keep in mind (1) have clearly defined goals for the players/users and the organization, (2) blindly applying gamification without thinking through organizational repercussions can be costly, (3) measure progress, get feedback and iterate, (4) create value since it is a not a one-way street but a multi-way street and (5) balance between intrinsic considerations and extrinsic rewards.

Gamify Spice
Gamify Spice

Here organizations have a choice about gamification as a (1) passing fad or (2) as a strategic lever that can help them transform. So, the real question about using gamification becomes,“Can you afford not to do it?”

Sebastian Deterding, Dan Dixon, Rilla Khaled, and Lennart Nacke. 2011. From game design elements to gamefulness: defining “gamification”. In Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments (MindTrek ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 9-15. DOI=10.1145/2181037.2181040

“Gamification – Gartner IT Glossary.” Gartner IT Glossary. Gartner, n.d. Web.

Werbach, Kevin. “Coursera – Gamification.” Coursera. Coursera, n.d. Web.

Krogue, Kevin. “5 Gamification Rules From The Grandfather Of Gamification.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web.

Stanley, Robert. “Top 25 Best Examples of Gamification in Business.” Clickipedia. Clickipedia, 24 Mar. 2014. Web.

Kleinberg, Adam. “Brands That Failed with Gamification.” – –, 23 July 2012. Web.

What is Design Thinking and why is it better?

Design Thinking for Business Innovation

Before I give examples of use of Design Thinking for Business Innovation, it is important to give a quick overview of Design Thinking.


In traditional approach, for evaluating any business proposition, the two most important aspects that are taken into account by business executives are (1) Viability, and (2) Feasibility. This approach looks at the business benefits of a proposal (viability) and then evaluate whether it is doable in a practical manner (with through own resources or partnering with some) in a timely fashion or not (feasibility). The initiative which ranks the highest on these two metrics, is blessed with funding and kicked off. It seems like a very reasonable way of solving problems. Then why do more than 95 % of these initiatives do not live up to their expectations? There are several reasons:

  1. Both viability and feasibility projections are based on assumptions about the future.
  2. The approach follows

View original post 609 more words


Khan's Blog


People who have not heard the term “gamification” before perceive it to be about games but this is inaccurate. In order to address this misperception, Deterding and his team researched the various uses of gamification and came up with a definition that states gamification as “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts.” (Deterding et al.) We can see from this definition that gamification distinguishes itself from games by implying that while games are for fun without real world implication but gamification has implications in the real world. Broadly speaking, gamification continues to be applied to various areas of business, technology and society.

For this research paper, the focus is on the business and technology aspects of gamification. This leads to the definition by Gartner that states gamification as “the use ofgame mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.” In…

View original post 2,190 more words