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What really is Gamification?

To answer this question, we first need to understand the key piece of it. The Hero Saga. Fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

Aristotle was the first to define the real meaning of tragedy. Many writers followed him for centuries. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle’s most important study of personal morality and the ends of human life was a widely read and influential book for many centuries. Though written around 340 BC, more than 2,000 years ago, it offers the modern reader many valuable insights into human needs and behavior.

Wait, wait, stop right there. The title is gamification, and you are writing about philosophy; what the heck? Are you out of your mind?

No, I am not. And, if you believe that gamification is about getting badges, sorry to say that, but you are deadly wrong. The badges are the smallest part of something bigger, the Hero’s Journey or Saga (I prefer saga). After worked in different gamification projects, been the first a total disaster, I learned by review all the decisions we made.

Take a deep breath, and hold on to the end of this article to find the connexion.

Gamification father, Aristoteles

Aristotle may have defined tragedy in detail, but now is not the time to stick with the old notions. The World has been changed, and so us humans; however, our feelings and emotions may not have been changed, yet most people have become heartless. Every day people see a new tragedy in real life. If the same thing is repeated in theaters, films, and tv, it would have no effect.

The Nicomachean Ethics is not only about individual happiness. It is about how we grown character, a requirement to have a joyful life. Humans owe loyalties and devotions to their city, community, their family, and friends.

Greatness comes with specific responsibilities to oneself and others. Aristoletes

Now, you know where the famous friend of the neighbourhood Spiderman phrase comes from:

With great power comes great responsibility. Perter Park Principle.

Virtues like bravery and magnanimity may require sacrifices for the common good, and the ethical person makes prudent decisions about when and how much to give. This is the Hero’s principle.

A Hero Should be Tragic, and a Noble Person

Aristotle expresses his views further and says that a tragic character should be noble by birth and he must fall from prosperity to adversity. Noble characters are best for a tragedy. The suffering of a noble person is more effective than the suffering of a commoner. There is more interest and fear in seeing a nobleman falling from his position.

Suffering is the basis of a tragedy. No tragedy is complete until the Hero suffers. A hero combines both good and bad qualities, should suffer because of an error or frailty. It can be an error of judgment or a wrong decision or any other thing which leads him to destruction. The tragedy also adds that the sufferings of the tragic Hero can also be the reason for unavoidable circumstances.

Eventually, hero myth pattern studies were popularized by Joseph Campbell, influenced by Carl Jung’s analytical psychology.

Still, confused? Bear with me. Let me share an example.

Jesus Christ has the most famous Hero’s Saga in the Western World. Based on the bible books, Jesus was born noble, son of God. He lived a simple life until his journey begins. God blessed him with unique and incredible powers; he helped his community engaged in healings, taught in parables, and gathered followers.

After John the Baptist baptized him, he was tempted by the devil for 40 days and 40 nights in the Judean desert, marking the beginning of his suffering. During this time, Satan went to Jesus and tried to draw him. Jesus, having refused every temptation, Satan then departed, and Jesus returned to Galilee to begin his ministry.

But, his suffering did not end in the desert. He was arrested and tried by his peers, handed over to the Roman Empire, and crucified.

And you know the end of this fantastic saga.

From philosophy, history into Games

Before games, exists and build an entirely new entertainment business model. With Charles Chaplin and his character Tramp, the film industry started to build the modern Hero’s Journey. In my personal option, specifically with the film Modern Times.

Others were masters of it, like Disney, Stan Lee, George Lucas, and so many others. Then games, but the extraordinary evolution of games started with the storytelling of the Hero’s saga. Over the years, the game industry evolved, and rewards and badges minimized the Hero’s suffering. Transforming the entire experience into something more fun but keeping the essence, the Hero’s Saga.

There are 8 Gamification Principles

The hero saga is called epic, meaning and summoning. It’s Core Drive, where a player believes he’s doing something bigger than himself or has been “chosen” to do something. A reflection of this is a player who invests a lot of their time building an entire community by keeping a forum or helping to create things.

One of the most balanced, engaging, and addictive games that nail the Gamification process is Diablo III. I was addicted to it.

Before you start to ask about the other seven principles I mentioned before, don’t worry; I will explore them in the following article. If you want to explore, check the Octalysis gamification framework proposed by Yu-kai Chou.

So, how do we apply this in our software?

The first step is to nail the Hero’s saga (Epic & Meaning), be careful, and do not mix the user journey with the Hero one. They have entirely different approaches, even though we are talking about the same user.

I do not intend to write a full how-to gamify; mine is to demystify and clear the air a few misconceptions to help you start your path into gamification.

After defining the Meaning, remember to keep it simple. Your biggest goal with gamification is to encourage desired behaviors and help your customers and employees achieve their goals. Make sure your platform is simple and straightforward. A gamified world that is difficult to navigate and understand and is full of complexities and twisted rules will simply leave your users frustrated, and they will abandon you. Keep it simple. Keep it clean.

Gamification is a powerful design tool; the most significant difference from others is where it is emphasized. We are wire to “function-focused design” while gamification, in essence, is a human-focused design, human motivation. The proposed idea is a design process that optimizes human reason in a system extracting from the games all the fun, and engaging elements found and apply them to real-world or productive activities rather than pure efficiency.

Gamify your system does not means became a game. Beware and ready to handle a bunch lot of new data coming from the gamification, and one last thought for today:

As human-driven focused design, all considered the emotional state of your user at all times, start with the first time she/he lands on your system.

I hope you decided to stick around to the end of this article, and I hope you had at least learn something new. I see you in the following article.




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Taric Andrade

Taric Andrade

Entrepreneurial minded, passionate for tech, driven by intellectual curiosity — curating knowledge to solve problems and create change.

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