5 Myths You Need to Know about Gamification

Gamification. Whether you hate or love the name, you're most likely hearing more and more about it. But do you know all the facts?

Gamification is the use of game-like elements (particularly relating to video games) to enhance tasks in business, education, or other areas outside of gaming. This can include leveling up, achievements, and competition.

Gamification has become a popular trend in business for integrating engagement into otherwise boring or tedious activities (such as paperwork or memorizing facts). Some preach that gamification is essential for companies, while others take it as too good to be true.

To help you decide for yourself, here are 5 myths everyone should know about gamification.


The 5 Myths of Gamification

Myth #1: Gamification is implementation of video games

Gamification is not the use of video games to enhance other activities. There is a difference between an educational game and an educational program that uses game mechanics to enhance the experience (gamification being the latter).

As fun as it would be to play video games at work or school, this is not what gamification is.


Myth #2: Gamification is fun

Now, to clarify, this is not to say that gamification cannot be fun. A skilled designer can create game mechanics in ways that are both fun and engaging. But making an activity more compelling through gamification does not always mean it's going to make it more fun.

Ask a gamer and they will likely tell you they've spent hours on a game that they didn't even enjoy just because of the compelling nature of it. "Just one more level" is a common phrase that demonstrates this. So adding a point system to an activity such as taking out the trash can make it more compelling, but it won't necessarily make it more fun.


Myth #3:  Gamification is inherently unethical

Many are concerned about gamification being used to manipulate people into doing things they wouldn't normally do. What these people are not taking into account is the agency of those participating. According to Yu-Kai Chou, an expert on gamification, as long as gamification is transparent in its motives and uses an opt-in system, there shouldn't be any problems with ethics.

For example, if a program claims that gamification will help users develop healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising and eating healthy, and it does exactly that, there is no problem. The user gets what they sign up for.

However, if the gamification program does something outside of what they claimed, such as compelling the user to buy products, that’s an issue. Another problem is if the user did not knowingly sign up for the program.

As long as the customer is fully informed on what they’re being compelled to do, gamification is not unethical.


Myth #4: All gamification is effective

Not all gamification is effective, especially when dealing with motivation. Gamification uses many external motivators such as badges, levels, and rewards to motivate action. The problem with these external motivators is they can kill internal motivation that drives people to find interest and satisfaction in activities. Though external motivators that are carefully crafted and used right can help increase self worth and a sense of competence, they can also be misused and have nasty side effects (lack of satisfaction, low quality work, etc.).

If gamification designers aren't careful, they can draw too much attention to the external rewards and away from natural enjoyment in completing the task. While gamification has the potential to help your company excel, remember that gamification needs to be done well to be effective.


Myth #5. Gamification is the only option

Gamification is just one of many strategies organizations use to drive action. What sets gamification apart is that it uses behavior-change tactics with decades of experience in video games.

The theory is that because these strategies have been used and tested for so long in video games, they are effective and should be used in other mediums. But this is just one path to behavior change. The study of behavior change has been explored for much longer than video games have existed.

If you are interested in how to use a proven psychological method to drive change, visit www.teambitesize.com.