Gamification: Level 1 | Why We’re all Players | Guest Blog for Xirrus

When I think of the word, gamification, I imagine a retro-pixelated world of surrealism, or an ultra-futuristic landscape of lasers…but maybe that’s just me.
The sheer proliferation and pervasion of mobile devices and wearables is undeniable. In fact, it was recently reported by Gartner that 4.9 billion connected things are expected to saturate the market by the end of this year, with the number sky-rocketing to 25 billion by 2020.

What Do Mobile Devices Have to Do with Gamification?
IEEE experts predict “gaming will be integrated into more than 85% of daily tasks by 2020” and that “our mobile devices will be the hub for all the ‘games’ we’ll be playing throughout a normal day by tracking the data we submit and using it to connect to everything”.
So What Exactly is Gamification?
Coined in 2002, it can be described as the craft of deriving all the fun and engaging elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities.
The concept of gamification can take shape as a multitude of different elements, mechanics and ideas. Let’s first identify the main groupings.
7 Ways Gamification Keeps Users Engaged
  1. Progress and Tracking
This grouping represents a very important concept that underpins the premise of gamification, whereby the process of tracking, interpreting and presenting big data allows users to track progress, receive feedback, follow a narrative/storyline and benchmark themselves.
  1. Rewards
These can be random, pleasant surprises to keep engagement interesting and varietous, or more commonly presented to the user when they reach a milestone or achievement.
  1. Socialisation
 Given the prolific rise in social networking adoption, the application of socialising is crucial to gamification and more easily implemented. Socialisation can include ways to share progress, connect to a community, or benchmark and compete with one another.
  1. Surrealism and Escapism
What makes gaming so engaging is the ability to step out of reality, examples include: virtual worlds & communities; customisation & personalisation; and creativity tools.
  1. Achievement
Humans are fueled by striving towards their next accomplishment and can be engaged via challenges, learning, certification & badges, levels, and quests
  1. Contribution
Feeling we are serving a wider purpose is crucial to continued engagement; examples include gifting, sharing and helping.
  1. Playing
Elements listed here are likely to be the features that first spring to mind when conceptualizing gamification; elements include: point-scoring, leaderboards, virtual economies, and random chances. 
5 Ways you may Already be Gaming in Your Everyday Life
To give some context to gamification elements, let’s take a look at some of the more well known examples of gamification that have crept into our everyday lives. 
  1. FitBit
This application uses multiple elements of gamification to foster loyalty. Used to capture and interpret data that users are already generating during daily activities; such as heart rate, steps and sleep patterns. FitBit allows you to track your progress and also benchmark against others. This engages what has been coined, ‘co-opertition’ – users participating for a common purpose engaged by the motivation to compete against each other. 
  1. Yelp
We live in a declarative age; the concept of ‘checking in’ across your networking channels is a well-known social norm. – Checking in via Facebook, does indeed engage socialisation elements, however this data is lost, untracked and forgotten as time continues, in other words there is no increased incentive for prolonged engagement. Apps such as Yelp and FourSquare however collect or track multiple check-ins as progress – allowing you to benchmark yourself against a like-minded community and to achieve badges and social status based on continued use of the application. Users are also encouraged to contribute to a community by giving tips and reviews.
  1. Starbucks Rewards
What might just push you to choose Starbucks over another coffee shop across the road is the continued use of their rewards app. This app transforms the concept of payment by not only removing the normal sensation of parting with cash, but it also presents users with stars, which convert to real-life rewards and discounts, and allows the user to move up various membership levels.
  1. Waze
This community-based sat-nav application makes use of escapism with the use of avatars, gaming levels, and seemingly random virtual rewards, or ‘goodies’ you essentially drive through and munch in a real-life ‘Pac man’ style experience. These goodies are actually strategically placed in areas where the app needs to correct map data.
The community elements allow users to work towards a common goal. Wazers can flag speed cameras, traffic, police-cars and hazards for a more informed journey.
We’re all Accidental Gamers
It seems we participate in elements of gamification every single day without even realising we’re being intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to engage – it’s what makes us human.
As enterprises worldwide introduce new and more immersive ways to drive continuous engagement with gamification elements, both on premises and out in public; a fast, reliable and safe Wi-Fi network infrastructure will prove essential to not only support increasing device densities, but to also allow a stable cellular offload solution.
Think about how elements of gamification are already integrated into your daily life. What’s keeping you engaged and motivated? If you’d like to explore these concepts further be sure to progress to Gamification: Level 2.
This blog originally appears here.

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