‘Gamification’ has been a buzzword for about ten years, but after the COVID-19 pandemic, it started taking off. So, what is it, and what advantages does it provide for my business?

Kanon Gaming Founder-CEO Nikolai Livori – a computer scientist and serial entrepreneur – answers these questions and more in this collaboration with MaltaCEOs.mt.

Why do we play?

Animal species, particularly humans and canines (I am a dog lover), play with each other or, more accurately, exhibit signs of enjoyment while doing certain activities. For example, when you play ‘fetch’ with a dog, you might think the dog is just enjoying running back and forth. But, instead, you are triggering an evolutionary instinct in the animal to become a predator – and seek the ball.

Likewise, dogs play rough with each other, and although they are ‘playing,’ from a behavioral perspective, they assert dominance or familiarity with each other. Humans’ play’ for a variety of reasons: to practice (e.g., playing sports), to bond socially (e.g., board games), to manage stress (e.g., personal pass time), and others.

Play is most often associated with enjoyment, fulfillment, and amusement. However, playing is not necessary for fun. Some activities drive the competition element of us, which is where rewarding mechanisms come in handy.

How is ‘gamification’ defined?

‘Gamification’ is the process of employing a game-thinking mindset and game design/theory skills to address a specific issue that is not game-related. The primary goal is to make the project simple, enjoyable, and engaging.

For example, you are working on a language learning application. Add features like missions, milestones, badges, achievements, competitive leaderboards, and perhaps a leveling system. Suddenly your application becomes a much more enjoyable experience for the user. They will likely be able to use it for much longer. Gamification is applied in numerous other areas and industries.

In collaboration with Math Epic and Kanon Gaming, we are working on a project called AdvanceXP. The aim is to research and create a SaaS (Software as a Service) that should make ‘gamifying anything’ much more manageable. More about this later.

Finding your game-thinking mindset

You will need to study your project thoroughly and find pain points where the introduction of gamification will increase your product loyalty. The trick is to create a fully balanced solution by providing something challenging but not too complex. Your audience needs to challenge themselves, learn, and be rewarded simultaneously, but not get bored or find it too easy to accomplish.

When crafting your gamified solution to your problem, you want to achieve a state of increased engagement, motivation, loyalty, and productivity.

I suggest you define different milestones in your project and establish a point levelling system. Then, the more a user interacts with your system, the more stuff they are rewarded and the more opportunities are unlocked for them.

For example, let us say you decide to introduce gamification to your property rental business.

Creating leader boards, competitions, and even a reward scheme for the employees (the realtors), will for sure make them more productive. Naturally, this is a more complex way (yet more interesting) of the business commission structure typically used within real estate agencies.

Simple examples for gamification models

Practically, gamifying a product can be done for any vertical; here are some tried and tested industries where ‘gamification’ will for sure increase engagement.

Educational material

You can create a game for an educational topic you are trying to teach. For example, applying games to teach physics is a form of gamification. Let’s say you teach chemistry and create a small game where the students can mix elements to create other compounds. It instantly makes studying more fun and engaging.

Language teaching is also an example where Duo Lingo (a mobile application) does it well. I have been trying to learn Hungarian over the last year or so, and being able to reach different goals kept me motivated to practice.

Leadership and organisational domains

Imagine creating a problem-solving game where the player has to go through challenges involved in leadership, such as conflict mediation, people management, negotiation, budgeting, etc. Creating a game and offering it to the employees in an organisation will help spot the real leaders and help spot employee traits that may not be easy to identify.

Motivation and goal-tracking

Fitness programs might be hard to follow for the Average Joe; however, all they need is motivation.

Looking at a video of a fit instructor doing 100 consecutive jumping jacks without even getting out of breath is not so much of a motivation. However, create an application or game with an elaborate system of achievements, prizes, sharing, and other engaging elements. If you manage to do so properly, you have gamified your motivational program.

Social connection

Everyone has heard of the Metaverse, where people connect in the digital world. The concept of such a virtual world is the gamification of human social interaction through avatars.

Recruitment

I will not go into detail on this one, but the US Army has used games to entice people to sign up for the army. Enough said!

What are we doing?

Nikolai Livori

I am the Founder of both Kanon Gaming and Math Epic. The former is an iGaming company in the B2C industry, specialising in online casinos, sports, and lottery. The latter is B2B and research-oriented, focusing on AI solutions, SaaS, and following upcoming software trends.

One of our projects is called AdvanceXP, which will be tested and fully operated in online casinos to improve CRM and customer engagement. AdvanceXP will offer an easy-to-use pluggable platform where you can create your own set of levels, achievements, missions, and all the necessary gamification concepts.

First, you start by defining a set of rules and rewards. Then, these get processed by the AdvanceXP intelligent rule engine. After that, gamification happens in the background, i.e., the point system, a currency system, a leaderboard system, assigning badges, giving rewards and achievements, handling communication, etc.

It is more complex than it sounds, but it is worth exploring. As Albert Einstein said, “play is the highest form of research!”

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