Louis Sztayer Edwards
IORMA Researcher

Gamification is typically defined as introducing characteristics that can typically be found in games, into non-game contexts. This can be done in order to engage a wider audience with a particular topic or idea, that usually would hold no interest to it. Characteristics found in games such as “levelling up” or gaining points can be turned into incentives, and to help motivate or influence people in particular ways. Through observing processes in the real world, we can see many ways of life that have been influenced by the foundation of many gaming systems. We can see these through and in the involvement of:

  • Shopping – As time has passed, we have seen an increase in shopping inside of games, but there has also been some gamification involved in shopping itself too. As shopping (as well as many other aspects of our everyday lives) are becoming more digitalised, the gamification of it was almost inevitable. However, there are also some aspects of it that may not be that obvious. For example, many retail shops offer incentives through the form of loyalty points. There are hundreds of examples of this (“Tesco Clubcard”, “Nectar points”, “Subway MyWay rewards”, etc.), and make use of the points system, a component that has been a cornerstone of gaming since it began.
    These loyalty schemes incentivize customers to keep coming back to their stores by promising a free product or a deal once they reach a specific point threshold.  This type of point collection is a common theme in many games, where the aim is to build up as high a score as possible to achieve a higher rank, however in this case, customers would want to achieve enough points so that they can reach the point limit required for their “prize”.  

There has also been seen the increased usage of augmented reality software when it comes to shopping.  One example of this has been the IKEA AR application, that allows users to using their phones camera, and virtually place furniture around the room to find out if they suit and fit their residence. Another, yet slightly different example could be seen from the fashion house Gucci, who have recently released one of the first pairs of “virtual sneakers”, that can be seen on the feet of the customer (for $12) when looking through the camera. Whilst both show very different examples of it, the influence of gamification is undeniable. This increased usage of augmented reality shows the significance of Jean Baudrillard’s idea of a “hyperreality” (whereby the lines of distinction between the reality and the virtual are no longer there) is ever so slowly approaching. (Reference: Simulacra and Simulation – Jean Baudrillard)

  • Education – In order to keep the attention and interest of kids, merging learning with games can have many benefits, as it can help to incentivize them further. There have already been many usages of game-related learning software brought into schools already, such as “Education City”, “BrainPOP”, “BBC Bitesize”, or “Duolingo”. All four of these include different elements taken from games, with there being seen, point systems, leader boards, “badges” or “medals” which can be obtained through continuous use of the websites, and the numerous tasks set amongst them. One of the main intentions for the gamification of learning is the idea to make learning fun and enjoyable for anyone who accesses it. By applying gaming aspects to learning, it can be made not only enjoyable however, but also create a healthy competitive environment between students, especially with the addition of leaderboards. Teachers could also provide additional incentives using that, promising small prizes for those who end up in the top 3. This just goes to show how endless the opportunities that gamification provides, it can open a whole new world of learning for everyone to experience.

A study of 15 classes even found that students using forms of gamified learning had shown a higher average of points, badges and number of logins as opposed to the students using non-gamified learning forms. They also saw an increase in written quality also, with the rates of accuracy being higher within those groups too.
This goes to show how effective the gamification of learning can be, and its influence over the students.

The gamification of learning does not end in the classroom either. Many video games have also adapted an educational focus too, for example brain training, available on the Nintendo systems. Games have also provided an outlet for teaching in strenuous circumstances, for example, during the peak of the pandemic, some teachers took advantage of Minecraft’s sandbox-based gameplay and managed to create a learning outlet through that.

  • Other everyday life activities – We can also see the effects of gamification in many other aspects of our lives, without many people even realising what it is. The idea of gamification itself is quite vague and open to interpretation, meaning that we could find new examples of gamification in our lives every single day, that we would have never even considered. It is extremely flexible and can be applied to nearly any idea that revolves around how humans are motivated and influenced. For example, we can see the use of gamification through the experience of driving. When you commit a dangerous act through it, you get “penalty points”, and if these build up, you risk facing a ban. This type of system can be linked to the idea of a “health bar” in many games. This shows how gamification can rely upon the loss aversion theory in order to manipulate human behaviour on the roads, people would rather avoid taking a consequence than have a chance of getting a return of equal value.

In my eyes, Gamification is slowly but surely enveloping our everyday lives. Everything around us is becoming more interactive and requiring responses from us too. As the world continues to grow, I believe that brand loyalty will be a massive factor in keeping brands afloat, and as of such, we will see further introduction of more reward systems. I agree very much with what Baudrillard said, being that the virtual and physical worlds will at some point become indistinguishable, and that Gamification is just a precursor to that happening.
I believe this because through the observation of gamification we can now see that our lives are being influenced by games, on a wide scale. The evolution of gamification almost feels akin to the start of a black mirror episode, as it seems to have a greater hold over our existence, with each step forward in technology that we make, and especially so with a large majority of the population not even realising. It almost feels as If we are lab rats, with our behaviour being monitored, and manipulated with subconsciously.
A scary idea to think about is that these people know exactly how our brain works and can successfully manage to manipulate us in particular ways. For better or worse Gamification is only going to grow bigger with time, and we are going to continue to see it in more and more aspects of our lives.

Here I will include some videos and links I found interesting: (This one is very interesting) (Actual full lecture)

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