Gamification Toolbox: Social Interaction

Gamification Toolbox: Social Interaction

While a lot of the techniques from gamification were derived from game design, this does not mean we have to turn every aspect of our lives into a game. Our win scenario is simply being able to present a situation in a way that best motivates and engages user behavior. Whether those users be our students, peers, customers, or employees; we want to provide them with interactions and feedback that makes them excited to get involved.

Gamification has a number of tools under its belt to accomplish this, and understanding how each of these tools can be used will give us a better idea of where we can use Gamification to help improve our designs. Previously we have loosely defined what Gamification is, and taken a quick look at the type of real world problems that might actually call for a solution. Now it is time to start taking a look at the specific techniques that exist within the Gamification tool box.

One of the biggest leverages people are starting to take advantage of is social interaction. Connecting a group of people and giving them the tools to properly interact with each other can exponential increase the gains of a system, where otherwise resources or oversight would be limited. Both competition and collaboration can bring new energy into just about any project whether it be in the office or in the class room.


What problem is Gamification addressing?

Gamification is more then a high score

We've taken a brief look on what the word gamification means, which is to use design techniques usually associated with games and apply them to motivate and engage a specific audience. There was a blog not to recently however, that claimed that Gamification is the solution to a problem that doesn't exist; that we already have a universal point system, and it is called 'money'.

There are at least two problems with this. First off, money is not an effective point gauge system for measuring incentive or value. As a means of incentive it turns out that after a certain threshold (estimated at around $75,000 a year in the US), more money does not actually make you happier. There is even research which says that money incentives can have a negative impact on work output, specifically for any task that requires cognitive thinking or problem solving in a given time frame. And as a measurement of value, what is most often the case is that you do not make what you earn, you make what you can negotiate. There are plenty of low paying high impact jobs (ex. teaching, fire fighting, law enforcement) which stand converse to the high paying non-critical careers (ex. professional sports, theoretical finance, patent lawyers).

Secondly, there are a lot of problems in the world that could benefit from Gamification. Trying to simplify the process of Gamification as slapping a point system on everything, misses a lot of the design space and potential of applying it to real world situations. Part of the Gamification tool box includes being able to balance short term and long term goals, producing better feed back mechanics, creating socially collaborative and supportive structures, and creating unexpected rewards and challenges to keep people engaged.

There are many places in the world that could benefit from employing some of these measures. So in order to show that there is a place for gamification in our lives, I wanted to point out some of the specific examples in both education and business where there are problems that need to be solved.


Is Gamification A Real Word?

Gamification involves the use of design techniques to motivate and engage people in situations not typically associated with games. Over the past few years, more people have been considering how this could change the way we think about business, education, and the world. So can Gamification be something we take seriously, or is it merely a buzz word describing concepts that have been around for decades?