In a Nutshell: What Is Gamification?

The Definition

Posted by Ali Akhtari on 2018 Sep 16

Gamification is the combination of UX design, game design, behavioral design, and neuropsychology. The most common definition of gamification is:

The application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

Successful gamified experiences usually increase the engagement rate, customer loyalty, or conversion rate. Generally, gamifiers want to motivate users to commit a list of desired actions.

Gamification as Human-Focused Design

Gamification is not about games. It's about human's brain, behavior, and motives. That means a good gamifier has to know how the human's brain works. Thus, Yu-Kai Chou—author and keynote speaker—invented a new term: Human-Focused Design.

In my view, gamification is the craft of deriving fun and engaging elements found typically in games and thoughtfully applying them to real-world or productive activities. This process is what I call “Human-Focused Design,” in opposition to what we normally find in society as “Function-Focused Design.” Human-Focused Design optimizes for human motivation in a system as opposed to optimizing for pure functional efficiency within the system. -Yu-Kai Chou

Gamification as Experience Design

For me, one of the best terms to use for gamification is "Experience Design." After all, the main task of every gamifier is to design experiences for the people. That is the same as what movie directors, writers, game designers, and UX designers are doing. However, experienced designers, or gamifiers, have another objective: changing the behavior.  Gamification is not all about creating engaging experiences for the users, but to change their behavior, too. Nick Pelling neologized the term gamification in 2002. He defined the term as the following:

Applying game-like accelerated user interface design to make electronic transactions both enjoyable and fast.

During the last decade, many experts have defined gamification. And the meaning of the word has evolved over the years. As much as written definitions are unnecessary, understanding the core conceptions and objectives of gamification is critical. So, I recommend you to think about the profound notions, tools, and goals of gamification instead of trying to find or coin the best definition of the term. Then, you can become a master gamifier!

Gamification Examples , User Experience Design