Something to understand and keep in mind when talking about gamification is context. Meaning that the reality is Gamification isn’t always the answer. Gamification looks to implement mechanics that allow for more engagement and enjoyment of an activity. For the most part and at a high level this seems like a good thing. Of course if work was a game one might enjoy it more. But in some cases, gamification does just the opposite. One sales team’s gamification program failed miserably because they didn’t view the points system and badges as a competition but rather just another way for management to keep an eye on them.
In a study by Juho Hamari, Jonna Koivisto and Harri Sarsa titled ‘Does Gamification Work?’, they took a look at context and gamification. The research gathered specifically about education saw the outcomes of gamification as mostly positive in terms of increased engagement and motivation as well as the enjoyment over them. However, there were some negative outcomes such as the effects of increased competition, task evaluation difficulties and design features.
Recently I read a blog post by Jason Tammemagi on gamification and early childhood education and his own experience throughout his career. You can read the article here: http://jasontammemagi.com/a-life-gamified/. What he discusses is the outcome of when there is no achievement unlock sound after completing a task or even a basic “thank you”. You can’t always expect a gamified reward. The warning he leaves us with is “Gamification can be a great tool to engage people but let’s just be careful about how much or how strongly we use it.” When I tweeted we tweeted him about games not always being the answer he simply responded with “It’s all about purpose and context”.
So when you’re making your gamification program for your employees, customers or even just people you live with make sure that gamification is right way to go. Think about the context: the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.