Gamification appears to be ever-more prevalent by the day. This, of course, comes as no surprise considering the associated positive effects (of which the most commonly cited include increased user/employee engagement, better social interactions and greater productivity). The below article by Jim Pugh (Huffington Post) provides a brief overview of the core elements of gamification – it’s a nice and concise read, and a good place to start for those looking to gamify.
Jim’s mention of surprise [in gamification] is fairly reminiscent of the ‘variable reward’ concept in Nir Eyal’s Hook Cycle model. The idea being that variability in reward schedules causes greater peaks in dopamine oscillations (yes, I’m sorry I mentioned the frankly overused D-word). While this is typically analogised to gambling (slot-machines, lotteries, etc.), it can go some way in explaining why people engage so frequently with social media.
Points, badges, and leaderboards (often abbreviated PBL) are the most commonly discussed gamification elements, but there are many others as well. Leveraging social connections can make activities more fun, and can enhance the effect of other game elements like badges. Challenging users to "quests," where they must complete a certain collection of tasks, can be a big motivator for people. And mixing in surprises, where certain badges or virtual rewards are given unexpectedly, can keep things from getting boring and engage the reward centers of users' brains.