Motivation in the eyes of gamification

Alan De Biaggi
Nov 11, 2017 · 6 min read
Be Careful by antontang

Gamification is all about motivation.

Motivation is our internal drive, a desire to achieve our goal. The most important part of successfully achieving your goal is the visualization of it and that is where gamification steps in.

Begin with an end in mind

According to Stephen Covey and his second habit, you should begin a day with the image, picture, or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. Second habit is clearly about visualization and taking responsibility and action of what you want to be at the end, to understand what matters to you the most.

Let’s take the idea of Covey’s second habit and put it into a goal achievement perspective. If we begin our journey towards our goal, we need to visualize that goal, try to feel what will happen when we achieve it. Once the mental image is created, we can start pursuing our goal. Maybe we will share that goal with someone else or even help fulfill someone else’s goals, like company mission. Company mission can motivate you to a higher meaning and purpose. If this is the case, that’s a win win combination for you and your company.

Here, I’m not questioning the quality of goals; are they challenging enough or if you are satisfying mastery, autonomy or purpose throughout them. The word “challenge” here is very important, as some gamified elements are directly impacted by a challenge.

Sometimes we are so destined and focused on a goal that we forget to enjoy on the journey.

Also, there are times when we get distracted on the journey and we lose the big picture or focus on our goal.

Journey is whats defines us, not the goal.

Our road towards a goal may be bumpy, but our journey doesn’t have to be affected by that. We decide what our journey is going to look like. Here is how I would describe motivation on a journey towards our goal.

Motivation on a journey is divided into three parts:

Motivation journey

First third — we are focused, excited, can’t stop working towards goal. Our motivation and enthusiasm is at its peak. In the first third there is a “point of doubt” where we realize that we have done a huge amount of work but still we have a lot of work to do and we don’t know if we’ll be able to keep up in this pace. Soon after that point our motivation starts dropping.

Second third — we are working a lot and we don’t have anything firm to hold on to. Second third starts when “point of doubt” bursts. Once a doubt enters our minds and we start questioning ourselves our goal and motivation starts drooping. In this third we are most inert, and now only the power of self-motivations will bring us back. If you are in the team, other members will pull you out or motivate you. Second third is the longest one because our motivations is rising and drooping, like when we are having trouble with the motor engine — pushing the gas pedal leads to acceleration, but sometimes we get no response at all.

Last third — we received acceleration from self-motivation and finally we can see the end. We even have something to show, to bust about and its working. Our enthusiasm and motivation is raising and we are destined to the end. As we are approaching to the end we are spotting some things that we would like to change or that we could have been done somewhat differently and that tests our motivation.

Our enthusiasm at the beginning and at the end is high because we have just started or we see the end. The problem is in second third where that start acceleration has faded away and we don’t see the end. Only with self-motivation we can push ourselves forward and raise ourselves up. Second third is crucial, here lots of people will give up on their goal.

Team has tremendous power over human motivation

A good team (with a good leader) can produce miracles. Usually the team shares their mission and vision and together they pursue common goal. For a team, first third is much longer as people are constantly motivated by a team community, a collective. When there is a point of doubt, leaders are here to help and pull you out. Second thirds will be greatly effected by a good leader or person with a strong vision, the one who can see the end and visualize to the others.

Leader must keep pulling, not pushing. I would say that the above mentioned is the most significant difference between a good leader or a visionary whom people naturally follow and a bad leader -therefore, pull not push.

Last third is nearly the same as individual as now they all see the end and collective energy is rising with enthusiasm.

Small wins are crucial for completing the big picture

The power of progress is fundamental to human nature, but very few managers, leaders, trainers and parents understand this or know how to leverage progress to boost motivation. Over 28 percent of small things trigger big reactions.

Use gamification process to create enjoyment on the journey towards the goal. Gamification principle is your motivating companion with great sense of humor, joyful, social, competitive, very friendly and popular. Friend with whom time flies. Friend who will tell you when you are stuck and need to move on.

Gamification is the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.

Gamification as a consequence has that if people achieve their goals in organizations, organization achieves its goals. Of course, companies need to be careful not to mix company goals with personal goals.

Keywords and main design elements

With gamification small wins are visual and transparent. Even with something simple as progress bar we can visualize our journey towards the goal. People can always see and be aware where they stand, and how much they have till their goal. Goal is always here, its visual and easy to spot. Focus is in that second part of the graph where with gamification we want to help person to stay engaged and motivated.

Goal is its own reward


Journey can consist of chapters — small wins. Every set of task will combine a chapter which will be closer to the end of a goal. I believe that all of us at some point in our life “wanted to finish the chapter” while reading a book. We wanted to stop, but something pushed us to read this two pages to finish a chapter; to have a small win. It’s in human nature to finish what we have started, especially when it is close.


With every step or task achieved you could earn some points that brings you to a higher level. With points person is actually monetizing his progress and can grow up the scale towards the goal. Levels are independent from actual projects, they are person depended.


Each achievement can earn us a specific badge. Different task can bring us different, and unique badge. Badges are achievements grouped by some meaning and they depend on an environment.


Leaderboards are here to show how person is positioned compared to others. To see where he is standing in a big picture, based on several things: level, badges and other creative comparisons.

It’s just the beginning…

With the Implementation of Points, Badges and Leaderboards (PBL-s) we have not only added awareness, visualization, but have engaged and helped a person in a general way. Person will see the goal and will always be aware of it. As mentioned before, with small wins he/she will feel the progress and be more satisfied and motivated to move on. When one sees how much journey is already behind him, he will be involved more personally (because of the time and effort invested). The fact of losing that progress will also play its part in this push towards the goal. Plus, if stuck on a problem, one could see how much problems, issues he’s got and move on or maybe the position of others will encourage him to move on, or solve more.

That is the overall approach, however this solution can work perfectly in one case and be absolute fail in other cases. Depending on a process, situation, person, second part of a graph can be fine tuned and adjusted to satisfy and motivate according to his/hers personality.

Gamification is not just a process of implementing game elements like PBL-s and that’s it. The key is to design a unique person experience.


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Alan De Biaggi

Written by

Co-Founder of Unitfly, IT Freddie without voice, but with the certain skills in #Leadership, #BusinessDevelopment, #Inovation, #Gamification and #Love :)



We are helping our partners in leveraging full business potential providing services of Digital Transformation using Business Intelligence, System Integration, Microsoft Azure, M-Files and other technologies we are passionate about…

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