Habit RPG

Gamification: The Pursuit of Progression

This is a guest post written by the undergraduate student Samantha Stahlke of the HCI Games Group. It has appeared on Medium and on the group’s homepage before. We encourage the discussion on Medium.

As a first-year wading (well, cliff-diving, really) into the depths of academic research reports last fall, I was struck with what you might call “jargon fatigue.” Though I was no stranger to general scientific reading, upon broaching the field of game research, I was quickly overwhelmed by a veritable tsunami of seemingly obscure terms related to the research fields surrounding statistics, sociology, and design theory.

Clinging to nothing but a thesaurus and a handful of Wikipedia links, I pulled through, and now proudly report that I understand what a MANOVA is, even if in the most simplistic and inevitably misinformed of ways. One word, despite its status as a seemingly obvious portmanteau, remained somewhat of a cryptic mystery in its meaning: gamification.

Ask any academic what the term “gamification” means and they will no doubt provide you with an informative cascade of phrases related to system design, repurposed game mechanics, “tangible progression,” motivation, and task management. However, like verbose snowflakes, no two answers will be the same. In fact, a number of papers regarding gamification have been written for the sole purpose of defining the term (including one co-authored by our group director). Continue reading

Dressing Activities as a Game is Enough to Shift Motivation

Or at least, that’s what  our study at Aarhus University found. Something had been bothering me for a while about gamification – both as a game scientist and as a psychologist trained in evidence based practice. All this talk of gamification involves a lot of hype and claims about game elements like badges, levels and achievements, but pundits never bother to dissociate the effects of each such mechanic. Would it make a difference if we removed, say, the leaderboards? What if we took all the game rules out? What if visually and verbally presenting something as a game is just as important as the game mechanics? Continue reading