What is gamification? Mindspace explains

The term “gamification” means different things to different people.

To me, gamification meant games like Spent, which challenges the player with surviving poverty and homelessness. The ultimate goal of Spent is to pay rent at the end of the month, but along the way it forces you to choose between, for example, putting a healthy meal on the table or keeping the heat running.

While that’s a poignant example of the power of gamification, the concept can be applied to countless other areas, according to Don Low, director of marketing for local agency Mindspace.

For the uninitiated, gamification refers to the use of game logic and mechanics in non-game concepts. Applications of gamification can improve user engagement, motivate exercise, improve learning, increase data quality and more.


Mindspace, which has offices in Tempe and Portland, Ore., is a dedicated gamification agency.

“We are a creative agency that approaches communications using gaming mechanics to drive everything that we do,” Low said. “We look at all communications through a gaming lens.”

Mindspace has developed programs for FedEx, Coca Cola, Virgin America, HBO and more.  It developed the “Around the World in 100 Days” promotion for Expedia and the popular Dexter trivia app for Showtime.

Gamification is successful, Low said, because “people are always in motion” and lack spare time. That lack of spare time means a program has to do something to grab your attention, which it typically does through a reward system, he added.

Gamification offers two types of rewards: intrinsic and extrinsic, Low said. Intrinsic rewards involve intellectual challenge, addicting elements, distraction or social implications. Extrinsic rewards are money, recognition or rewards, Low said.

One of the problems gamification faces is the name itself, Low said. While the method applies game thinking or mechanics, the end result doesn’t have to be a game in the traditional sense.

“Gamification involves a broad range of solutions,” Low said. “It involves things that feel like games and things that don’t.”

The most important obstacle for gamification’s future, according to Low, is dispelling notions that people aren’t interested in games.

“Don’t think that there isn’t some CEO in a major corporation who’s playing Candy Crush,” he said. “It happens all the time.”

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