Gamification Basics

strategy gamesIf you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I always speak about principles that are important to gamification – to make it work. I write about intrinsic motivation, the right type of competition, utilizing the right narratives for the right goals, and more.

But one core issue to address with gamification is personalization and segmentation. People aren’t made of the same stuff – they are likely to be driven by different things. While we can segment employees and set different (personalized) targets, so they will get a sense of success with gamification or learning materials that suit them, what about the “game” in “gamification”. For instance, assuming there is a sports narrative in a gamification deployment, would it apply to all employees and motivate them in the same ways?

Gamification for employee engagement isn’t one size fits all.
Gamification isn’t a one size fits all type of solution. The beauty of it is that it is flexible and versatile, and, therefore, we can find something appropriate in the game mechanic arsenal for any demographic. Yet, workforces are diverse – with several generations – so how do you personalize gamification?

In order to do this, and to make sure that the solution that we are offering is the optimal one, we need to make an effort to understand our users. Not just who they are and what field they are from, but even deeper. We want to know how they react, to what, and when. We want to know what effects them the most, and what they don’t care too much for. This way, we can cater to their needs and offer them the best training, insights, motivation and competition possible.

Player types and games
Some people look at player types according to Bartle. This is useful for enterprise gamification, but not that much. The Octalysis framework is also a useful way to address choice – but more centered on the goal of the game.

What about profiling, the art of understanding your users? I’m not even talking about enterprise gamification like us at Gameffective, but actual computer and video games. Companies that create video games are faced with exactly the same challenges that we face. They want their users to be as engaged as possible and in order to do that they need to understand them.

One company which is a great source for game creators is Quantic Foundry. Their blog is full of insights they have found about gamers and games. I especially love their analysis of gaming motivations and personality traits, found here.

However, when designing an enterprise gamification deployment for a customer, even assuming you can personalize game activities, how can you address the differences between people when choosing the overall narrative?

Looking for the common denominator? Strategy, not competition
Here are some great insights from the Quantic Foundry blog:

  • Strategy is the most stable motivator as gamers age. It turns out that in contrary to what you may think, competition is a motivator that doesn’t necessary work for all ages. Competition is more of a youth motivation than a gender motivation. On the other hand, strategy and complex thinking keep gamers interested and engaged at all ages.
  • Gender matters, but not as much as age. As you may expect, female gamers are more likely to be motivated by games that involve design elements such as self-expression and customization, fantasy elements and story elements. Male gamers tend to be motivated by competition, challenges, excitement, and strategy. This all fits the stereotypes that we are all familiar with. The interesting thing is, that as gamers become older, this becomes less relevant.

These are just two examples from a multitude of possible ones. The point that is important to make here is that understanding your users is super-important. At Gameffective, we’ve been doing this for a while now, in countless different environments. We’re still learning all the time, but we’ve also gained a whole lot of insights that we implement into every solution we create.

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