Gamification is the application of game design elements in non-game contexts and for non-gaming purposes. It is used in real-world contexts to create motivation and improve user engagement. Video games possess a high level of motivational potential, therefore the motivational power of video games can be utilized for real-world applications. Gamification seeks to make activities more game-like and elicit game-like user experiences.

The principles of gamification are already used in many industries such as marketing, health, crowdsourcing, education, politics, technology design, data collection, environmental protection and social networks. The US Army, Samsung, RecycleBank and Verizon have all successfully employed the principles of Gamification.

A Psychological Need

Research has sought to show how game design elements link into the psychological need for satisfaction. Points are awarded for the completion of specific activities within an application. Badges are a visual representation of a player’s achievements. Leaderboards are competitive representations of a player’s progress in relation to others. Performance graphs allow the player to see their own progress over time. In real-world terms points connect the individual to their actions; performance graphs are visual indicators of progress; badges and leaderboards provide indications of cumulative progress. It is the feedback from these design elements that gives a sense of competence.

Meaningful stories impart more than a sense of achievement. Avatars, the visual representation of the player within the gamification environment allow players to adopt a persona which makes them easily identifiable. Real or virtual Teammates allow for conflict, co-operation or competition. From a real-world, psychological point of view the need for autonomy centres on experiences of decision freedom and experiences of task meaningfulness. Avatars are relevant in relation to decision freedom, as the player has the option to make a choice. Stories allow the player to attribute a sense of meaningfulness to their actions and instil social relatedness. Teammates assist in highlighting the need to co-operate to attain a shared goal.

Different Gaming Applications

Electronic Retention

To increase engagement with the website for their show Psych, NBC Universal’s USA Network launched a fan loyalty program where users could win weekly prizes on completion of different challenges. Psych Vision, a mobile app, allowed access to behind-the scenes videos and trivia games which earned points and unlocked prizes. Fans could also chat with each other while watching the show. Page views jumped by 130% and return visits to the website increased by 40%. This success led to the creation of a social media mystery game, #HashTagKiller, where fans could have Facebook chats with the shows actors and engage with clues. This shows that a gamified social experience can turn fans into brand ambassadors.

In order to increase the amount of time users spend on their website Verizon Wireless created the Verizon Insider community hub. Users can earn rewards for participating in contests and interacting with the site. This increased the time users spent on site by over 30%. Verizon Insider makes the experience feel unique by giving users customized badges.
Samsung nation targeted the millions of users already using the Samsung website. Users earn badges for completing activities and participating in forums. Product reviews have increased by a huge margin each month.


Financial Institutions have long used incentive schemes that reward desired customer behavior. Mobile devices make gamification more viable. Gamification works well though competition and social networking. Peer pressure acts as a tool to keep spending under control and promote savings. Customer acquisition works best in conjunction with positive customer feedback.

Customer Loyalty

The best casino games tap into player motivation, by providing rewards such as loyalty points, opening up new levels, offering special bonus incentives, badges and more. Benefits can increase the higher the player goes. Setting goals or targets the players have to reach, encourages them to visit more or at off-times. Leaderboards encourage players to return and improve their position. Social sharing is a technique that motivates players to earn benefits by sharing their ranking, badges, and points, or referring friends. The more enjoyable the experience, the more likely it is that players will be motivated to return and play again. Navigate to for a fun time.

Physical Activity

In a trial 200 adults had to track daily step counts. Participants in the Gamification arm could earn points and progress through levels based on goal achievement over a 12 week period. These participants achieved step goals on a significantly higher proportion of days and had a significantly greater increase in average daily steps.

Health insurers and technology start-ups market games directly to consumers who use them to track their fitness and keep a check on their health. Apps allow people to participate in fitness contests with friends or receive rewards for completing health related tasks. Some games allow participants to post results to Twitter or Facebook, making fitness more socially engaged.

The US Army is currently searching for the next-generation game-based simulation to train soldiers and small-to-medium sized units.

The Future of Gamification and Where it’s Headed

The Future of Gamification is bright. It is thought that business and operating system will become more gamified and gamification will have a large impact on augmented/virtual reality. Gamification will cease to be something new and will become a much used term.


Writer, editor, and founder of FEELguide. I have written over 5,000 articles covering many topics including: travel, design, movies, music, politics, psychology, neuroscience, business, religion and spirituality, philosophy, pop culture, the universe, and so much more. I also work as an illustrator and set designer in the movie industry, and you can see all of my drawings at

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