Could not have said it better, Hats off to Mary Poppins!

There is something about games that makes them so powerful, it’s not just the element of fun, but the definition of what a game really is.

Game and play though they are related, they have different definitions. Play is more aimless; a kid grabbing a piece of cloth and running around with it is play, it’s just done for its own sake. However, a game is more structured; it consists of a goal, constitutive rules, and a lusory attitude. Take the simplest game on earth, tic-tac-toe, the goal is to get three x’s or o’s in a row, the rules are players have to take turns and a lusory attitude -meaning a player’s attitude- where both players acknowledge the game goal and rules and follow the instructions.

In a nutshell, it’s when players voluntarily follow and respect some pre-agreed upon rules to reach a goal.

That doesn’t sound fun! and doesn’t sound sensible as well in a world like ours, if this statement is true then governments would have never had problems with citizens and laws. But it is true, in a game context it is fun. We all enjoy games and we all do it voluntarily!

This is where gamification comes in.

Gamification is using game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts. Many businesses, especially in web design, are adopting gamification to motivate their users. Gamification can be used internally within a business or externally, or to influence behaviour change. It’s not designing a corporate game, or using an existing game, but it uses a deeper notion; What makes people want to play games?

Examples of gamification are Foursquare and Nike run. These are not games but both use game elements like points, badgets and leader boards to motivate users, and game design techniques or a game thinking like progression, rewards, scaffolding to influence the behaviours of their users. For foursquare it’s sharing interesting places and for Nike run it’s running more and in consequence buying nike’s products.

Gamification is a growing approach adopted by many businesses, and day by day many resources become available. I found the coursera Gamification course offered by Prof. Kevin Werbach to be a great start to step in the gamification world. Coursera offers free online courses from major universities around the world. It’s a very interesting course for anyone to take, you don’t have to have a design background or anything to understand the basics of Gamification. You can also check, it’s a gamification wiki and you’ll be able to find sufficient resources there to get you started.