Intro to Gamifciation

The term gamification according to Werbach and Hunter (2012, p.35) was coined by a British Game designer by the name of Nick Pelling in 2003.  The term did not really catch on again until 2010 when researchers and game designers started looking at the potential of video games for more serious uses.  What exactly is gamification,   Detarding et. al. (2011) states that “Gamification is the use of game design elements in non-game contexts”, but why would we want to add game elements or game design into things we do every day.  One great reason is because it adds a touch of fun into what we do, after all games can be fun, they can be playful.

One such example is of course the Piano Stairs, head over to and watch the video.  Exercise is good for us, and using the stairs certainly can add a touch of that to a person’s day.  What if we could make taking the stairs more fun, would people use the stairs over the escalator? By adding just a touch of fun to an everyday task, it is clear we can influence a person to do something that is good for them.

Piano Staricase

Figure 1: The Piano Stair Case[1]

Gamification of course is more than just getting people to climb up stairs, businesses use it all the time to entice you to use buy their services or products in what we term loyalty programs.   Here is a picture from my bank account telling me how many points I have accumulated on my credit card. All I have to do is use my card and I get points that I can spend or convert to cash. The premise behind Part of what Gamification does is to try to persuade you as a participant to do something or behave in a certain way whether that is to climb a set of stairs or to spend money on your credit card. It is a motivational device that taps into some of our most basic human traits in order to entice us to do better at our jobs, buy more product, be more creative, sale more goods, be more productive and many other actives.  This leads to the notion of what is referred to persuasive technology.

Chase figure 2

Figure 2: Bank Loyalty Points

Persuasive technology as defined by Fogg (2002) states that “Persuasive technology is broadly defined as technology that is designed to change attitudes or behaviors of the users through persuasion and social influence, but not through coercion.  B.J. Fogg is a professor at Stanford University who researches Captology which is the study of computers as persuasive technologies. “Captology looks at  “the design, research, and analysis of interactive computing products (computers, mobile phones, websites, wireless technologies, mobile applications, video games, etc.) created for the purpose of changing people’s attitudes or behaviors. BJ Fogg derived the term Captology in 1996 from an acronym: Computers As Persuasive Technologies = CAPT.” (Stanford Persuasive Techn Lab (n.d.)

Captology Figure 3

Figure 3: Captology

Persuasive technologies are a subset of what is termed Human Computer Interactions (HCI), which is a very broad field that looks at how humans interact with computers.  As you can see in figure 4, HCI is made of many different sciences.

HCI Figure 4

Figure 4: What is HCI?

Gamification has many components, rooted in many different sciences, in Figure 5. I replace the computers with technology/environmental, as we are no longer limited to computers as an interactive device in fact it could be anything that allows some sort of interaction with a Human whether it is technology based or something that exists in the environment such as piano keys on a staircase.   Gamification exists at the intersection where technology, persuasion and game design meet.  Gamification is more than an intersection; it is a layer that exists in the same space with Captology.   The Gamification Layer cannot exist without the Captology layer, as Gamification itself is just a set of tools to enhance the HTEI (Human Technology/Environmental Interface) experience regardless of the application.

Captology extended

Figure 5: Where Gamification Fits in.

Gamification is not a game, it is the addition of game like elements to an activity, in my opinion it is an enhancement that adds a touch of fun to an activity.  What that means is that their must be an existing platform or activity to add gamification too.  Gamification is  tool, to help increase engagement, it can help modify behaviors, but keeping in mind this has to be done in a good way.  Gamification can be used in just about any area if applied correctly, it is not something that you can build and they will just come.  It has to be well thought out, and must bring meaning and value to both the users and the organization that is using it.

[1] Vogelius, K.J. (n.d.). The Piano Staircase [online]. Available from: <;. [Accessed October 15, 2013].


Detarding, S., Dixon, D., Khalrf, R. and Nacke, L.(2011) ‘From game design elements to gamefulness: Defining Gamification.”[Online]. Avaiable at: (Accessed: October 17, 2013)

Stanford Persuasive Techn lab (n.d.) ‘What is captology'[Online]. Available at: October 18, 2013)

Werback, K. and Hunter D. (2012). ‘For The Win’. Philadelphia: Wharton Digital Press. p.35


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