Gamification As A Means Of Motivation & Participation

Gamification is the process of integrating game mechanics into any existing application, be it a website, an enterprise app or a community. The primary aim of gamification is to motivate participation, increase user engagement and enhance loyalty. Gamification can successfully turn any dull activity into an exciting journey of learning through mental exercise.

Games — A Basic Human Need?

Why do humans love playing games? The human mind is a complex machine that constantly needs exercise. Imagine a bunch of our ancestors who had just killed dinner and while the womenfolk were busy preparing the kill for everyone to enjoy eating, these guys are just sitting getting bored. Suddenly, one of them picks up a small pebble and throws it at a short distance. Another guy looks at it, picks another pebble and throws it to hit the earlier pebble. The first “game” is introduced. Everybody starts picking up their own pebbles and try to hit the first one. The “game” exercises the mind — pick pebble, aim, hit, enjoy, repeat. The fatigue of a long day simply vanishes and everybody has a gala time before someone shouts, “Dinner!”

Why play games?

Games are a fun way to exercise the mind while learning new skills and gaining knowledge. Playing games is also a great way to come out of negative feelings — despair, anger, depression and defeat. You can well imagine the joy it might have given our ancestors after a failed hunting mission. Games help compete with peers. The need to compete and go a notch higher than your peers is an ego massage that is actually needed by the human psyche. It helps reinforce self-esteem and builds confidence.

To build self-esteem and confidence, an individual needs motivation to participate. If the activity does not give pleasure, there won’t be enough motivation to participate. Gamification, however, motivates individuals to participate due to their inherently pleasurable nature. When an individual participates in a game he or she is only doing what the ancient human mind has been doing since we evolved as intelligent beings — compete in a non-lethal setting to build self-esteem and confidence.

Essentials of motivation in gaming

Now how does motivation work in games? There are essentially three motivation complexes in games — the achievement component, social component and immersion component. The achievement component, as is clear, is the need to advance in the game successfully by following the rules of the game and a will to compete with others. The social component is also derived from the basic human need to form connections, to help other players advance and the need to be a part of a group effort. The immersion component is the need to get “into the skin” of the character a person is playing and to escape from real life by entering a virtual world [1].

Gamification can also increase participation. While it makes sense that more individuals would participate in a gamified activity rather than one without, researchers have actually verified it. They have found that adding game-inspired elements to an activity has a greater effect on participation [2]. More enterprises are using gamification to boost customer engagement than ever before. More developers are creating more complex games to give players a never-before-experience. A $2.8 billion gaming industry attests to the popularity of games.

Creating a digital identity using gamification

One such novel platform that intends to use gamification to boost user engagement, participation and motivation is Borderless Corp’s EXP.LIFE, a project that aims to digitize life experiences of its participants with a very high degree of certainty and create digital identity of a human being that is incorruptible and accurate[3].

Using the basic elements of gaming like character creation, competition, autonomy, relatedness, recognition, reputation, quests and cooperation, EXP.LIFE endeavors to help individuals record their life events in a format that could be used as a comprehensive and true record for future employers, friends, and potential strategic partners and even for future generations to come.

The motivation in a “game of life” is obviously to gain reputation. The inherent human need to be acknowledged by peers is a major driving force behind many of our achievements. Rating by other users after completing a quest or a challenge will motivate players to participate and truthfully complete it.

Parting words…

Gamification is NOT just playing apparently meaningless games anymore. The basic elements of games — something that makes the game interesting and fun — are taken and added to real-life scenarios to convert many dull activities into exciting processes that takes user engagement to the next level. Every game is an extension of the basic human need to learn new skills, gain information, attain knowledge and have fun, all in an enjoyable and non-lethal manner. Using gamification in real life scenarios only adds to its value and makes them more acceptable.

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