What is Gamification?

This term has recently gained momentum in the technology world and almost every now and then you will see job openings for Product Manager — Gamification or Gamification Expert vacancy and so on… But what actually are these companies looking for by hiring such people? To better understand this, let’s figure out the term first.

As a child, I grew up playing video games like Mario, Contra, Aladdin, etc. and have almost played all kinds of sports from cricket, basketball, kabaddi, tennis to squash. And then there also came some unique games, that I played during the weekends at my uncles’ home located in a village, like MaalDadi, Indoo, Marbles and many more. As I grew up and the technology evolved, I began to play strategy games like Roller Coaster Tycoon (though it only clicked to me that it was a strategy game at one of my marketing classes during my MBA) and many other games.

While playing all of these games or sports, one thing that I realize now is that there were certain aspects that led me to play and I am listing those out:

  • Fun (As the word says, you are game for fun — Its more about accomplishment)
  • Friends (The word social wasn’t derived back then in detail as it is today. It was all about playing and enjoying together — All FOMO, Social inclination rest here. It’s opposite for single-player games or products in our case where the community is not required)
  • Win / Loss (If you win, you are elevated! If you lose, you are elevated to try again, learn, improve and get back. You always start from basic and then level up)
  • My Time (One wanted a reason to take a break from studies either during the weekends, holidays, vacations, or coaching classes for sports)
  • Explore / Adventure (What’s coming next? If its a game, what will next level bring to the table — all about uncertainty)

As you see, these elements were the primary motivators in playing games or sports. Many scholars have over the years worked in depth in elaborating these concepts and have come up with their own gamification models and frameworks. They feel that any industry can benefit if they involve gamification into their products or services so that the users are primarily motivated to consume their offerings and it in a way becomes a never-ending process. Lots of companies are shifting focus to gamification and all have different interests, while some want to increase the stickiness quotient, others are only limiting it to points and leaderboards.

One has to realize that gamification starts with a change from the core level of the product and an entire thought process has to be evolved around it. You start by measuring the core value, the true meaning of your product, and how it takes shape into an entire product.

In the last year, I have studied various gamification concepts and I would like to define Gamification on my own now. According to me,

“Gamification is the process that makes a user self-motivated to use or explore your product or service offerings by methodically and secretly taking him from being a novice to an expert.”

To make more sense in the definition above, just think what if Facebook launched today with all the features it has to offer right now, what will the new user think of it? It built step by step making the users play along in their product journey.

Companies are now on-boarding gamification experts to drive their future growth and make their products more meaningful to their customers while beating out the competition who will sadly fall behind. Gamification allows companies to focus on and refine their overall vision and strategy and brings together all the teams in the companies who have to work in synergy, and hence the need for Product Managers who can understand gamification and co-ordinate across all teams and departments. It is the way forward for all companies and soon you will see gamification experts across all industries. Many startups and established companies, like Swiggy, Meesho,etc., have already started hiring such breed of product people.

Originally published on 11th September 2020 via LinkedIn