What gamification is not

IllusionAlthough it is easy to concentrate on the merits of gamification, attention has to be made to the fact that it is not a panacea. Certainly it is not the cure for all problems.

Gamification is not a magic formula.


You can’t just create a generic method and apply it to everything and expect it to work with 100% efficiency and efficacy. Each experience is a different experience and requires a different approach. Like a tailored suit, which is built to fit the client and his needs, the gamification experience must also fit the needs and criteria of its target.

Gamification is more a placebo than a cure


Gamification can generally give you a different perspective on some experience, but will not solve the problem for you. You still have to have the will for that problem to be solved. If you have a very negative attitude towards the situation, even if gamification can help you a bit, you won’t see much of an improvement on the results. What gamification tries to do is to change your perspective and try to make you loath your tasks a lot less.

Gamification is not just points and badges


Despite being an important tool, points and badges are not the core engine of gamification. Points and badges alone can work well on their own, but not with much efficiency and not providing long lasting results. The negative traits they present sometimes are not even worth their use in a isolated way.

Both are an important way to measure success in a task, but that’s not what always happen. Sometimes those tools can be subverted by the players, creating a completely distorted perception of those metrics.

For example, consider a gamification app on the smartphone where you earn some points for just logging in to the app, and of course some more points for some player action inside the app. If player A only logs in everyday to collect the points, but player B actually uses the app but only uses the app from time to time, they might have a similar score, giving the idea that they have both a similar performance when that’s not really the truth.

We can’t understand the full extent of the gamification influence as of yet


We could consider that gamification is totally understood by now, and in it’s current form, we already have the capability to apply it at “full power”. However, the evolution of gamification directly depends on the evolution of technology and we can only try to guess how gamification will be used 20 years from now. Games are constantly evolving and testing new mechanics, which naturally will also make the jump to the gamification world sometime in the future.
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