Learning/Memory Social Psychology

Ep 182: Gamification – An Example of How To Do It

Gamification How It Works

Maybe you’ve heard of gamification, but how do you do it exactly? How do you use game principles to increase people’s motivation when they are doing everyday ordinary activities? Find out in this episode of The Psych Files when I show you how I would gamify an ordinary uHaul drive. Listen as I describe “uWin!”. I’ll first describe some gamification ideas and then show you how I’d put them to work in this rather ordinary truck driving situation. I’ll think you’ll have fun.

Characteristics of Gamification

    • Feedback – they have that with the gauge but it’s not instant feedback
    • Goals – try to get this (efficiency) score. You win!!
    • Rewards or points: – give drivers badges or of course discounts
    • Levels: if/when they reach a certain accomplishment (number of points or badges) the driver levels-up (use normal distribution – “regular driver” if you fall within 1 SD, “super driver” if you’re between 1 and 2 SDs and “Super-Duper driver” if you’re above 3 SD)
    • Conflict/Competition/Challenge – “drivers of this truck typically get X score” See if you can get Y score”
    • Real-time competition: use geolocation?
    • Leaderboards: see where you fit among others (kind of feedback)

Criticisms of Gamification

  • It’s silly
  • It’s insulting (it treats the user like a child)
  • It’s manipulative
  • It’s oddly out of place

Gamification is bullshit.

I’m not being flip or glib or provocative. I’m speaking philosophically.

More specifically, gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway. – Ian Bogost

The quote from Ian Bogost above is pretty strong stuff, but it’s definitely worth reading the full blog post, entitled, Gamification is Bullshit. Bogost has written a number of books on games, including the excellent How to Do Things with Videogames (Electronic Mediations).

Bottom Line Questions About Gamification

    • Will the effort to put a system like this in place result in increased revenue?
    • How can the company confidently tie the game to increased revenue?
    • It is often difficult to confidently determine whether the game is contributing to the bottom line.

Additional Resources on Gamification

    • My episode on Educational Games contains a good deal of info on teaching, learning and video game principles
    • Here’s a link to a free course you can take on Gamification. It’s taught by Kevin Werbach on Coursera. I looked a few of the videos and the content and quality are quite good. Thanks to Antoine (in the comments below) for the suggestion!
    • Badgeville is a popular company working gamification. Check out there site for more info on what gamification really is
    • Smart Gamification
    • Great TED talk on the power of games in our lives:



About Author


  1. Avatar


    October 12, 2012

    Glad you like the site. YOu could also check this psychology site: http://www.all-about-psychology.com. It’s not a podcast, but the site has lots of good info about the field.

  2. Avatar


    October 12, 2012

    Hello! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really enjoy reading through
    your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums
    that cover the same subjects? Thank you so much!

  3. Avatar


    October 12, 2012

    Thank you Glenn. I even have two of Bogost’s books here at home. I forgot to mention his provacative and must-read blog post. I added a quote and a link to his site to the notes above. Many thanks.

  4. Avatar


    October 12, 2012

    Ian Bogost has written some of the most coherent and scathing arguments against “gamification” check out his blog at bogost.com and some of his articles at gamasutra.

  5. Avatar


    October 12, 2012

    Thanks Antoine. I just watched a few of the free videos on gamification which are available on the Coursera site. Excellent stuff. I added a link straight to the gamification course in the Additional Resources section above.

  6. Avatar


    October 12, 2012

    There’s also a nice online course at coursera.org

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like

Development Learning/Memory

Episode 2: Rewards and Punishments

Do you believe in spanking children to get to them to behave? There is a lot of controversy, discussion and
Social Psychology

Episode #4: On Birds Flocking and Opposites Attracting: the data on Love

Do Birds of a Feather Flock together or do Opposites Attract? Find out which proverb is correct in this episode.