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Gamification design, not just designing like a game

This article talks about how gamification can be integrated into the design process of many other areas to enhance user engagement and participation.

Yongcheng Liu, Blogger

June 20, 2022

5 Min Read

1. Quick introduction of the concept

Definition of Gamification

A common definition of gamification is the application of game elements and game design methods to non-game scenarios, which in turn changes the inherent patterns of human behavior. Gamification should not simply be a game-like framework applied to other scenes. It should be a mode of thinking that empowers non-game industries through the inner core driving force of games, so that users can have more fun and create greater value in the process of experience.

Gamification elements

There are various elements that consist of gamification, and from their role in the gamification system. They can be divided into three main categories: dynamics, mechanics and components, which are sorted according to the level of abstraction to form the DMC pyramid. The lowest level of gamification elements is the basic components, such as achievements, badges and other elements, which are the concrete expressions of motivation and mechanism. The mechanics, which are above the components, includes opportunities, competition, and cooperation, and they are the basics that drive the game process and user engagement. The topmost layer is motivation, which is the promotion for users to use the product.

The DMC pyramid can provide some guidance for gamification designing, but it is easy to fall into the misconception that gamification is done only through components such as achievement leaderboards and gold coins.

2. Gamification design

How to break the game-like shell and truly empower gamification design? The Octalysis Framework for Gamification & Behavioral Design provides the core method.

The Octalysis Framework is used in gamification design, processing “Human-Focused Design,” as opposed to “Function-Focused Design.” It contains 8 Core Drives, which can be divided into left brain and right brain Core Drives, white hat and black hat gamification. Left brain and right brain Core Drives can be identified as extrinsic motivators and intrinsic motivators.

Gamification in service design

Radiation Therapy Unit in Chongqing University Cancer Hospital, is the place that provides cancer treatment for adults and children in the southwestern China. Originally, the hospital used standardized style for its decoration. The white wards, and cold instruments are creating unknown fear for children. After gaining an understanding of the entire ward and the children's treatment process, the designers transformed it into a "healing planet" for the children.

The yellow and warm white color makes the general ward seem less cold, and the medical area is added with decorations inspired by some franchises. For example, after opening the glass door with 28 icons through a special bracelet, patients can see "little monsters" hidden in plants at the entrance to welcome them.

The designer also added an interactive device and playing area, this way to build a bridge of communication between parents and children, playing a role of mutual reassurance.

From the perspective of the octalysis framework, the redecoration has added two driving forces to the medical service process: "socialization and association" and "location and curiosity". With full consideration of the needs of patients and their families, the design of the spatial movement, decoration design, and interactive devices, all together increase the fun of the treatment process, stimulate the curiosity of children, and strengthen the interaction between patients and their families.

The gamification marketing stragety of NetEase Cloud Music

On May 26, 2021, NetEase Cloud Music launched a personality test where users can find the color of their own personality, by listening to music and making some choices, and can also share the result to the Moments in WeChat, share with their friends, or post it on other social media, etc.

NetEase Cloud Music's gamification marketing utilized multiple drivers to attract users, with "scarcity and desire" as the core and "social and association" as the booster, to achieve a surge in popularity. In the shared graphics, you can see descriptions such as "In China, there is XX percent of people will like you" and "your characteristic". The text satisfies users' desire for the uniqueness of their personality colors, and expresses the recognition and affirmation of their own existence. According to the test results, users can use them to find people who match their colors and promote their social relationships.

Prescription Digital Therapeutics

EndeavorRx®, the prescription treatment used to improve concentration delivered through a video game, is also the first FDA-authorized prescription treatment for inattention in children with ADHD delivered through a digital therapeutic. Unlike other video games, the therapeutic procedures in the game are scientifically designed to challenge the child's brain during therapy while requiring the child's attention to be focused on multiple tasks.

This game is intended for children aged 8 to 12 with inattention, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It improves the attention level of these children and, as part of the treatment, together with other clinical, medication and education programs, will ease the symptoms of children with ADHD.

Prescription digital therapeutics are guided by the principle of two main drivers, "progress and achievement" and "creativity and feedback", where curiosity attracts children to play and complete the challenges of the game to gain positive feedback and ultimately achieve the goal of improving attention.

In digital therapy for children, side effects such as nausea can occur if the challenge level in the game is higher than the ability skill level they can achieve. Not only EndeavorRx, but all games used as digital therapeutics should also be closer in difficulty level to the skill level of the target player group so that they can stay in a state of "flow" for as long as possible, to remain enthusiastic about the game and achieves a therapeutic effect.


3. Summary

Gamification is one of the most widely used methods in design, and the good use of game elements can solve problems in user experience or maximize the marketing effects. But no matter what presentation form is used, it is only a means of construction. The core of gamification is still to promote user engagement, and the fundamental purpose is always to make users feel interesting and thus motivate them to participate in.

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