Go, Go Gamification!

I hear a lot of talk lately about "gamifictation" – adding gamelike elements to non-gaming software and services.  It may be achievements, titles, even controls – and the goal of course is to get people interested and using the software and services.

Let me state frankly that this is a great idea.  I'm bang alongside it, and I wanted to explore just why I think it works, and why we need to pay attention to it:

The Right Metaphors: Gaming as an industry may be growing and maturing still, but many game interfaces and methods are tried and true.  Gamers know all to well the value of a good progress bar or HUD.  Learning from Gaming taps a large body of knowledge and experience when it comes to interface design.

The Buy-In: Leveraging gaming displays and concepts already leverages what gamers know and both increases interest in a product or service and decreases the learning curve.  As gaming becomes more and more common, the use of game concepts provides more and more gain.

The Social Engineering: Games know how to turn a bunch of pixels into something that means something to people.  Tapping into that knowledge, those technologies, those metaphors is pretty much a given – there's a lot to learn in providing context and meaning.  One may argue this can be manipulated (and indeed it can), but the reasons for doing it are still there.

The Reuse: Why try and invent some fancy new display, metaphor, or method when a perfectly good one is available?

The Defusing: Gaming metaphors can make software and services less off-putting and alien to people.  Gaming knows fun, and familiar gaming methods and tools may also help you "take the edge off."

The Mutual Growth: Gamification encourages the sharing of technology and ideas between gaming and non-gaming software and services.  I see plenty of opportunities here to help various developers grow better by not walling off different kinds of software and services.

So count me in on Gamification.  I'm all for it – and this is why.

Steven Savage