Gamification isn’t really anything new in so far as there is no single part of gamification that has not been done before under another name. Even the ground on which gamification is built, the innate human compulsion to play, is as old as mankind itself.
What is new about gamification is the systematic marriage of psychology (particularly the psychology of motivation and behaviour modification), design and data to create powerful systems for engaging people and shaping their behaviour.
But achieving a happy and productive marriage of these different elements is difficult – and success is unlikely to be achieved in the design equivalent of a Las Vegas wedding chapel.
Professor Kevin Werbach from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Professor Dan Hunter from Victoria, Australia’s Swinburne University have just published what I think is the first real ‘desk manual’ for gamification design, The Gamification Toolkit: Dynamics Mechanics, and Components for the Win.
Werbach and Hunter lay out in clear, unambiguous and simple detail what needs to go into an effective gamification design process, while emphasising that there are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions in this field. A good design comes from a careful and systematic approach that focuses resolutely on the business goals, end-users and context of the design.