Gamification: The Perfect Guide to What You Need to Know

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

You’re on this page because you’re a business owner looking to take your business to the next level? Or maybe you’re a manager aiming at taking care of your team’s morale? Or simply a curious human? You’re in the right place. After reading this post, you’ll have an overall understanding of what gamification is.

You have probably heard of this concept somewhere. So let’s look at what it means to gamify something, why it works, and how you should (and shouldn’t) apply it.

Gamification: what is it?

In simple words, gamification refers to the process of adding game mechanics and dynamics to non-game settings.

You can apply this concept to all sorts of fields. Whether it’s marketing, health, or education, the examples are countless and diverse.

Gamification is used to simplify a difficult task or to make mundane tasks more fun. By doing so, you could improve the morale of your team or simply stand out from the competition.

Imagine you’re starting a new job. Exciting! You’re having a fresh start and you’re ready to take the next step in your professional life. Eventually, your manager sends you huge files to read for your onboarding. Boring…

In this case, gamification is a nice way to engage you more and make you love your new workplace (and manager).

Let’s further simplify the definition by zooming in on mechanics and dynamics.

What are game mechanics?

  • Goals: those are the objectives you need to achieve  
  • Levels: when you score enough points, you deserve to level up. The higher the level, the more challenging your goals. It all makes sense, you’re increasingly getting skilled so you have to put those skills into practice.
  • Leaderboards: they’re used to show the ranking of the players while emphasizing the competitive aspect of a game. 

These are just a few examples. Game mechanics are the elements that you might encounter in actual games. They represent the foundation of the gamification process. Furthermore, if implemented correctly, game mechanics can foster amazing game dynamics.

What are game dynamics?

Game dynamics refer to the range of emotions and social activities that may arise from game mechanics. Dynamics are what give the human touch to the mechanics.

You can see dynamics when your internal beast manifests itself to rank first on a leaderboard, or when you collaborate with your teammates to achieve a difficult mission together.

Breaking the ice might be tough sometimes. It can even feel uncomfortable, especially in a professional setting.

This is why at UP Digital, we developed MEET & CONNECT, the gamification of breaking the ice among colleagues. The purpose of the game is to bring people together to complete certain tasks, all the while sharing a fun moment; hence, leveraging the dynamics that are generated from the game’s collaborative nature.

MEET & CONNECT is all about making the process of getting to know each other smoother and more enjoyable.

Some benefits of Gamification 

  • Make the mundane fun again

Gamifying mundane task makes them attractive and less dreadful to engage in. Some activities, regardless of their importance, are just not that fun to do; especially when you don’t get instantly rewarded for them (and yes, I’m looking at my gym subscription). 

I remember I used to hate the fact that I had to brush my teeth when I used to be a kid. Back then, Kolibree did not exist (and I’m upset about this). Kolibree develops smart toothbrushes to improve the brushing experience for adults and children.

In 2015, Kolibree developed a game for children to teach them how to properly brush their teeth. The game is connected to the toothbrush which is used as a controller to make the character in the game move.

Through gamification, Kolibree aimed at making toothbrushing more fun by ensuring the most important goal – cleaning the children’s teeth. 

  • Engage your audience to the fullest

If you’re not familiar with Kahoot, you totally should check it out. It’s a game-based learning platform on which you can create quizzes that can later be accessed via an app on your smartphone.

Kahoot fosters a relaxed competitive atmosphere and makes those boring presentations great again. Try it and become the next rockstar among your colleagues!

  • Get instant feedback 

Wasting your time trying to figure out how you’re doing might be frustrating. Therefore, gamification allows you to eliminate this frustration by giving you instant feedback when you perform a task.

TypeRacer is a great illustration of this. If you’re intending to improve your typing speed, TypeRacer makes this dreadful process fun by showing you texts you have to type as fast as you can to finish the race first.

You can see your typing speed while you’re typing. You can also access your average typing speed, the number of races achieved, and other data related to your progress.

The cherry on the cake, you can play against your friends and flex your typing skills while practicing together.

Some do’s and don’ts 

Although you can find thousands of perfectly executed gamification strategies, not everyone gets it right.

That’s why you should avoid certain pitfalls that can have negative consequences on the goals you want to achieve or on your business overall. You really don’t want that, do you?. 


  • Understand the behaviors you want to trigger

This might sound obvious. However, it’s crucial to keep this in mind during the whole gamification process.

A while ago, RedBull Racing launched The Paddock: a loyalty program for its F1 team fans. On there, users can find a wide range of different blog posts to read and earn virtual points that can later be spent to have access to some exclusive rewards such as artwork, vouchers, and many others.

The more the fans consume RedBull’s online content, the more they know about the brand. As a result, loyalty among the brand’s fanbase grows. Therefore, the adequate implementation of the rewards mechanic can trigger the right behaviors.

  • Choose the right game mechanics 

You read the RedBull example above. You see how the right game mechanics are used to trigger the right behavior. 

Take leaderboards as an example. They can be a great asset. The gamification of a gym by including a leaderboard for a certain exercise can lead to healthy competition between customers while fostering a community feeling.

The story of Megan and Bobby is an awesome way to showcase how the right game mechanics can lead to beautiful things.


  • Don’t rely too much on leaderboards

I know what you’re saying right now. “Didn’t you say leaderboards can be a great asset?” 

Yes, they may be, only if used correctly

In the right setting, leaderboards can foster a motivating, encouraging, and positive culture. However, it can also contribute to creating a demotivating culture.

You might think that using leaderboards may be a good idea to motivate employees to perform better. But it could backfire by making those who rank at the bottom unmotivated and feel like they’re not enough.

Meanwhile, they might just be skilled in certain aspects that are not taken into consideration by the leaderboard. 

  • Don’t use Gamification for the sake of using it 

“How am I going to make this more interesting? Let me gamify it!”

This is a huge pitfall of gamification. 

Gamification is far from being a quick fix to your problems. If what you’re trying to gamify is initially uninteresting, gamifying it will not solve this issue.

Incorporating gamification has to achieve certain goals. Throwing game mechanics here and there without thinking about the why and the value they add will not help; it might even hurt your business.  

In 2011, Google tried gamifying its news service, Google News, by handing badges to its users. Where did it go wrong then?

First, those badges had no value whatsoever. You only had to read the news to receive a certain badge, which is not challenging enough to enjoy the reward.

Second, the badges were only there to be shared on your profile or your social media profiles.

Finally, the badges displayed the kind of news you read. As a result, the users gave up on the service since they did not want others to see what they were reading. Some people were pretty vocal about their dissatisfaction with how things turned out.

Now you know!

Game over! Now, you should be confident in saying what gamification is. You can think of gamification to impress your manager when you’re brainstorming ideas, or if you want to make your business stand out from the competition and be ahead of the game.

Written by:
Majdi Hentati

About the author:
When he’s not writing, Majdi is either thinking about copywriting, reading or sleeping. He helps you to write compelling copies to reinforce your e-reputation. If you want to connect with him, he’ll be delighted to chat with you on his Linkedin.