Gamification is the use of game design mechanics in non-game applications and processes to engage audiences

Gamification and User Experience

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Games are much more than mindless fun these days. The word on the streets is gamification. You've probable heard of it, but don't really know what it is. Gamification is the use of game design mechanics in non-game applications and processes to engage audiences, which is one of this year's most important web trends, enhancing the user's experience and solving problems. In its talk "Gamification - The New Loyalty " at the 2011 Copenhagen Social Media Conference, Gabe Zichermann (author of the book Gamification by Design, Amazon), explains what gamification is and how it works, check it out:
http://vimeo.com/25714530
Gaming elements can be applied to solve problems in numerous fields of life. We suggest you to take a look at this TED talk by Jane McGonigal called "Gaming can make a better world" to get a better idea of what can be achieved through gamification.
There is a wide range of gamification techniques, from small games to leaderboards, but maybe the most common and popular of them in websites is the use of profile badges, as made popular by sites like Foursquare. These are small graphics that are given to the user when he or she completes certain tasks. Badges had proven to work for certain sites, but many people dismiss badges, saying that users are so inundated with them that they're losing their charm. The thing is that recognition of different game mechanics is key when deciding which gaming techniques would work better for a certain website or bussiness.Like it or not, gamification is here to stay. Gamification techniques are still in development and there's a lot of room to work. But it's also an exciting tool and we'd love to see what the future is holding for us in this area. For now, we've selected some fantastic websites for you that use gamification to engage their users. Oh! And by the way, you've just earned +1000 points of awesomeness for reading this post!

  • Foursquare

    Foursquare is probably the most famous location-based social network for mobile devices. Users post their location at a venue ("check-in") using a mobile website. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes "badges". There are a handful of introductory badges that are earned as milestones in usage. Some badges are specific to a city, venue, event, or date. There is no official foursquare badge list available from the company, according to their website, that makes it more fun when one badge is unlocked.

  • Zombies! Run!

    Zombies! Run! is an iPhone app that presents a story to you based on the idea of being a survivor of a zombie apocalypse. It functions as a RPG in which the runner is given a character that exists inside the game. We all know how difficult it is to get motivated to go for a run. Zombies, Run gives an incentive for exercising through a story that is influenced by how much you run. The user has to meet running milestones to unlock the next chapter, there’s a “hook” at the end of every 20 minute section, which is an effective way of bringing users back.

  • Causecast

    Causecast is a platform that makes it easy for companies to create opportunities for their employees to donate their time, treasure and talent to nonprofits. Campaigns can be created easily by the corporations, or by Causecast's creative team. Employees can verify their volunteer via SMS and get rewards from their employers and track the impact of their efforts on the commmunity.

  • Foodzy

    Foodzy is a web based app that lets players compare, compete, and cooperate to maintain a healthy lifestyle, lose weight, or keep track of diet and nutrition. The service rewards certain healthy or fun eating habits with badges, it also allows users to discover new products that other users with similar eating habits have liked and share recipes on various social networks. It makes it easy for users to figure out how much they eat, as well as how much they should eat depending on their weight goals.

  • Google News Badges

    In Google's ongoing quest to become more social, they released a new feature called Google News badges. If users are signed-in to a Google account and have web history enabled, they will earn badges by reading articles in Google News. The more articles they read, the more their badges level up. Google News badges are private by default, but the site allows sharing with other Google contacts to see what interests they have in common.

  • Epic Win

    Epic Win is both a productivity app and a RPG in the style of Dungeons and Dragons. It is a to-do list with a point system, as you tick off items on your to-do list, your character progresses, getting more experience points and leveling up. Users are motivated to not “game the system” so they don't defeat their own personal goals. It seems that Supermono, the studio that created it, had stopped working the project, but the app is still running

  • Fleetly

    Fleetly is an app that analyzes users' fitness goals and motivates them to reach them. Fleetly tracks users' exercises, rate their current fiscal level and allows them to compare it with friends or other active people. It rewards users with peer-group recognition and motivates them with challenges, leaderboards and medals. Fleetly uses a variety of measures such as calories burned, body type, and weight loss to determine the user's fitness level. Fleetly hopes to set itself apart from other athletic apps by covering the whole range of athletic activities available.

  • Nike+

    Nike+ is a device created by Nike that uses a sensor to measure and record the distance and pace of a walk or run. In addition to tracking personal workout statistics, the Nike+ integrates directly with the Nike website. Runs are compiled into charts and personal bests/goals achieved etc. One of the website's best features is the challenges section. There are numerous challenges created by Nike+ for runners and users can also create their own challenges to compete among friends. With over 2 million users worldwide, it’s a great motivational tool for runners and a fantastic marketing tool for Nike, as users can share their progresses and completed challenges through platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

  • Spent

    Spent is website but also a game that allows the player to live a life of adverse poverty. It shows that when you have no money, you have to make really hard choices. Spent is a perfect example of how games are not only about entertainment, they can also lead to immersion and create empathy.

  • Ribbon Hero 2 – Clippy's Second Chance

    Ribbon Hero was a competitive game for training users to fully exploit the features of Office. Users can get points based on their use of features and completion of challenges (small tasks designed to teach a specific skill), share them on Facebook, and compare their progress to their friends'. The game is no longer being developed and Microsoft no longer gives support to it, but due to its popularity, they keep it available for download.
    Ribbon Hero 2 – Clippy's Second Chance

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