“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do” Tom Sawyer, in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

From the time Tom Sawyer distinguished work and play by intention, we have struggled to make work as fun and Gamification & Communities
motivating as play. With Gamification technology, we now have a chance to capture in software a way to work and participate that tie into the basic human urge to play for productive use. Formally, Gamification is introducing gaming techniques in an otherwise non-gaming environment /application to get desired results. Goals, milestones, and levels of achievement, all of which are driven by rules, define gamification. Game mechanics include points, badges, levels, missions, trophies, rankings, contests. And these mechanics are generally driven by more visits and revisits, and participation in preferred activities. Today, gamification is a key tactic for driving engagement and is being used across domains and verticals with visible success.

Before we get into the psychology of gamification and things it’s able to achieve, lets understand the gamification industry by these interesting facts and numbers.

  • Gartner predicts that by 2015, over 70% of the Global 2000 will have at least one gamified process.
  • M2 Research predicts that more than 50% of all social business initiatives will include a gamification component by 2013 and the gamification software market itself will reach $2.8 billion by 2016.
  • Rapper Chamillionaire, who recently presented on gamification at Dreamforce’12, uses a leaderboard for ranking his fan base – using a Gamification technique to drive fan engagement and have some fun at the same time.
  • In a recent blog, Eloqua revealed that its blog engagement has increased 55% post the introduction of gamification on their blog.

Elements of Gamification – Rewards, Activities, Levels …

The mechanics of gamification are driven by human emotions – desires satisfied by gaming, eventually leading to engagement include:


Rewards are big motivators. It is not important that rewards be tangible, as they have a significant positive impact in either case. In consumer/community engagement terms, a reward is an appreciation for particular action (set) taken by the user, which is turn triggers repeated action – translating into higher engagement. Types of rewards include:

Milestones in shape of:

  • Points
  • Levels
  • Badges

And rewards in shape of:

  • Virtual Goods/Bounties
  • Facebook Credits
  • Coupons
  • Access to premium content/services

Drivers of Gamification – Human Emotions!

Although, all these emotions are centric to the dynamics of Gamification and as such will apply in every case gamification is applied. We have tried to highlight which emotion is more potent for which type of community and why.

1. Recognition

All humans desire to be recognized as more capable, intelligent, smart, and overall better. The users driven by need for recognition are your ‘must have’ community members. Whatever gamification tactics you implement – increase engagement through views, problem-solving, contribution they will be at it to the best of their ability. All you need to ensure is that achievements are visible to all who visit the community.

Best suited: All types of communities

Preferred rewards: Badges & Levels

2. Achievement

Many people like to find challenges and overcome them – are driven by achievement. These users will be the ones trying to solve the problems in the community. They don’t care about participation, likes, or other tactical level things. They dive straight into the problem and aim to be the first to have resolved the issue at hand.

Best suited: Support communities, ideation forums

Preferred rewards: Badges & Levels

3. Personal branding

Self-expression is the emotion that has driven blogging to stratospheric heights that it is at today. In a community, self-expression comes through the choices that a member makes – avatar pics, rewards they choose, virtual gifts they give etc.

Best suited: Ecommerce communities, professional networks, knowledge exchange communities

Preferred rewards: Avatar pics, community/screen name, and choice of virtual gifts

4. Competitiveness

Competition improves performance. In fact, all the emotions mentioned above are reflected in this one emotion. A comparison of achievements of members can be used to drive engagement. Leaderboards play a significant role in triggering this emotion.

Best suited: Support communities, knowledge exchange communities

Preferred rewards: Leaderboard display of achievements, rewards, virtual goods

5. Generosity

Gifting is essential to fostering relationships and in communities, this emotion of altruism can be used to increase member base and drive engagement. Members can get access to choice of gifts on attaining certain activity levels, which they can share with new members who join the community.

Best suited: Knowledge exchange communities, Special interest networks

Preferred rewards: Gifts, virtual goods

Gamification uses human psychology to get drive results, which in this case is community engagement. But Gamification is not an ‘implement it and forget it’ feature. It has to be monitored, leveraging analytics, to continuously tweak elements to get maximum engagement. It begins with a rich experience and continues to unfold and update itself with changing requirements, mindsets, and users.

At Grazitti Interactive, we help companies set up robust communities from scratch. From strategy to platform selection, build and setup, community promotion, and community management, we help brands meet their community objectives with measurable results.

Photo credit: MattHurst via photopin cc

This post was originally posted in blog.grazitti.com