Software Development

Introduction to Gamification

You have probably heard about gamification before. It’s one of the hot topics. You see them in Stackoverflow and use it in foursquare. I’ve signed up for the Gamification course at coursera, by Kevin Werbach from the university of Pennsylvania. It’s just started but I want to share some of my notes from the first couple of lectures. It might give you some idea about what is gamification and how it is done. 

You can also check the following useful posts:

Games are powerful things but harder than it appears.

Gamification is the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts.

Game elements :

– Things like leaderboards, things like badges to reward achievements, things like point systems.


Game Design Techniques:
– Think like a Game Designer.

Non-Game Contexts:
– Some objective other than success in the game. (Business,scholar, social impact,personal improvement,etc.)
– Using simple elements that they have developed from games. To take these and apply them to a situation that isn’t a game.

Example, Samsung nation web site encourages people to gain badges and points by visiting their website, interacting with their products, writing product reviews, watching videos, registering products they have already bought and so on.


Gamification is not …

  • Making everything a game (or an immersive 3D virtual world)
  • Any games in the workplace
  • Any use of games in business
  • Simulations (or serious games)
  • Just for marketing or customer engagement
  • Just PBLs (points, badges, leaderboards)
  • Game theory

Gamification is …

  • Listening to what games can teach us.
  • Learning from game design (and psychology, management, marketing, economics)
  • Appreciating fun.

Internal Gamification:
Used for employees inside the company.

External Gamification: Used for customers for the sake of marketing..

Game is …

  • Hard to make a definition
  • Pre-lusory (play) goal, constitutive rules, lusory (playful) attitude
  • voluntarily overcoming unnecessary obstacles
  • a magic circle
  • A game is a closed, formal system that engages players in a structured conflict, and resolves in an unequal outcome (Tracy Fullerton, Chris Swain and Steven Hoffman)
  • A game is a series of meaningful choices (Sid Meier)
  • A game is a domain of contrived contingency that generates interpretable outcomes (Thomas Mallaby)
  • A game is a problem-solving activity, approached with a playful attitude (Jesse Schell)

Play is ..

  • Play is the aimless expenditure of exuberant energy (Friedrich Schiller)
  • Play is whatever is done spontaneously and for its own sake (George Santayana)
  • Play creates a zone of proximal development of the child. In play a child always behaves beyond his average age (Lev Vygotsky)
  • Play is free movement within a more rigid structure (Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman)

Takeaways for Gamification

  • Voluntariness
  • Learning or problem solving
  • Balance of structure and exploration

We’re all gamers now! (Sources: Pew Foundation and Entertainment Software Association)

  • 97% of kids 12-17 play video games
  • The average game player is 30 years old (37% are older than 35)
  • 47% percent of all game players are women

Video Games are not Just Blowing Stuff Up

Games in real life :

Be Careful!

  • Not everybody likes games
  • Gamers don’t like every kind of games

Why Gamify?

  • Engagement gap : willingness and ability to contribute, participate. How? By making it fun.
  • Choices : having many different things to do (if you have less choice, you must have direct result, like shopping) –> games:meaningful choices
  • Progression : 1st should not be the same as 100th: experience
  • Social : involving relationship with friends, compete, collaberate, share, team up, see what others doing
  • Habit : making the action a habit, natural thing to do automatically

Example: Dodgeball vs Foursquare

You should also check some Java Gamification projects:


Reference: Introduction to Gamification from our JCG partner Unsal Korlu at the Java Fun blog.

Ozkan Sari

Computer Engineer graduate from Yeditepe University of Istanbul. Professional in IT Sector since 2007. Works as a Software Specialist for Provus Istanbul, during the daytime :) Likes blogging, taking photographs , watching theater, travelling and exploring new places.
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Yu-kai Chou
9 years ago

Thanks for providing a kind link to my work. Appreciate it!

Also, enjoyed your summary!

9 years ago

Thanks for sharing a lot basic knowledge about Gamification!!

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