Can Gamification work for everyone?

There are a number of questions we can ask organizations to start the process for Gamification, First and foremost, can a business issue or process be identified where Gamification can be applied. For now I want to set that aside, and agree that Gamification can and will continue to be used to solve business issues. The focus I would like to look at is once we get past what is the business problem; we have to address a number of questions concerning who are our targets. By targets of course I mean who as gamifiers are the people we want to reach out too?

Considering the size of some of the global organizations out there, this could be a daunting task, to figure out who are users are? What behavior(s) we wish to modify, change or reinforce? Lastly, what are some of the motivators we need to use to achieve success? The basic answer to most Gamification is what typically is referred to as PBL (Points, Badges and Leaderboards). While PBL, does have merits as a motivator, a good Gamification design needs dig deeper into understanding what makes a person tick. Mehta and Kass (2012) states that, “developing learning technologies with some game-like elements provides evidence that it will be possible to use games to transform behaviors. But systematically achieving that effect will require us to draw on more than game-design experience.” This suggests that in order for Gamification to be successful, we have to go beyond game play, but also a fundamental need to understand how users learn.

One of the theories that work well is Kolb’s learning styles, MacKeracher (2004) states that “Learning and therefore knowing , requires both a means for taking in and understanding experience through representing that experience in the mind as concepts or felt sensations, and a means for transforming the resulting representations.” Kolb in MacKeracher (2004) states that ‘Simple perception is not sufficient for learning; something must be done with it.”


As Gamification matures the learning experience is going to be more important that the rewards and games. Kim (2012) presents a variation on Bartle’s playing type, which when playing true games works fine with the following player types:

• Killers: those who act against other game players

• Achievers: those who build up their in-game status

• Explorers: those who gather artifacts and look around

• Socializers: those who build friendships

However, businesses should not be confused with games, and Kim (2012) suggests the following nomenclature instead of what Bartle uses in his model. As Gamifiers I don’t think it is enough to work just with Bartle’s model, we also must be aware that both the learning model and the player model must exist at the same time. Neither model is exclusively mutual of each other, in fact I would like to suggest without the learning model, laid upon Bartle’s type, that long term Gamification sustainability within the system would lost. So in order to work with a large user community, Gamification must work on multiple levels of learning for users.

Amy Jo Kim


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