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5. Why Gamify?

To gamify is to make something more game-like.

Recall the definition of gamification:

  • the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts.

Some characteristics of gamification include:

  • Engagement Gap
    • Making the product or service more engaging, more game-like and more fun so that more people will  use the product or service
  • Choices
    • Having more variety will help to engage the target audience so that they will have more options to choose from instead of just performing one or two activities
  • Progression
    • Progression is another way to engage audiences, allowing them to move from one level to another. Without it, the audiences may not be motivated to perform the same activity and end up with the same results over and over again
  • Social
    • Social interaction is very powerful as people generally love competition, collaboration, sharing and teaming. This gives them information on what  each other are doing and gives social status to users
  • Habit
    • By instilling the habit in target audiences, they will execute the task or buy the product naturally

An example is the success of Foursquare against Dodgeball. Both are location-based social networking websites for mobile devices but Foursquare, which implemented gamification, has seen much success as compared to Dodgeball, which was shut down in Feb 2009 and succeeded by Google Latitude. By the way, both are developed by Dennis Crowley and Foursquare is the successor of Dodgeball.

By comparing the two applications with the characteristics above,

  • Engagement Gap
    • The service provided by Dodgeball was not engaging enough to motivate users to use the application for checking-in all the time
  • Choices
    • There are limited choices in Dodgeball where users can either check-in or not check-in. In contrast, Foursquare has much more options available
  • Progression
    • There wasn’t much progression in Dodgeball as the user does not experience anything new each time he or she check-in into a place. Foursquare on the other hand, created badges and Mayorships to engage the users, allowing them to progress as they continue to check-in on the application
  • Social
    • Both Dodgeball and Foursquare have the social aspect, involving relationships with friends
  • Habit
    • This was a big challenge and currently is for Foursquare to induce this habit onto its users to check-in on the application whenever they are at a particular place.
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