There’s no denying that gamification has been one of the biggest buzz-words of the past year or so. But what does it mean, and more importantly, what does it mean for the games industry?
Wikipedia defines gamification as “the use of game play elements for non-game applications,” and although it’s only relatively recently that they’ve put a name to it, gamification has been around for ages. I remember earning house points at primary school for doing well, we were even on a team, and at the end of the year if we had the most points we’d win a trophy (go Vikings!)
Gamification has got a lot more high tech since then, with a huge number of web sites and apps using techniques popularised by games to increase longevity, appeal and even as the cornerstone of their product.
Surely game designers are in the best position to lead the charge on gamification, given that they have an in-depth knowledge of game mechanics, but there seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge it’s potential. A recent straw poll on the IGDA Facebook page revealed that more than half of those that took part in the poll didn’t think that gamification could help the industry. In my opinion I think that anything that familiarises people with game mechanics can only make real games more accessible (and I said as much in the poll).
For those games designers reluctant to acknowledge the power of gamification I’d like to point them toward Epic Win, a highly successful iPhone/iTouch app that is essentially a to-do list. The twist is that it features a number of features most commonly associated with RPG and adventure games. Things like quests, levelling and collecting loot.
Clearly, Supermono have used their unique set of skills to create a product that appeals to both gamers and non-gamers, earning them the accolade of being the number one Productivity App in sixteen different countries.
It is my opinion that more game developers should take a leaf out of Supermono’s book and embrace this new trend, rather than dismiss it as bullshit.
“Life’s a game, all you have to do, is know how to play it.” – Anonymous