This is a guest post written by the graduate student Gustavo Tondello of the HCI Games Group. It has appeared on Medium and on the group’s homepage before. We encourage the discussion on Medium.
In the last few years, there has been a growing interest in the application of game elements to real-life goals and tasks. These efforts are often directed towards self-improvement, encouraging positive lifestyle changes, and increasing motivation to complete work objectives. The idea of using games to modify activities that are not traditionally considered games is not new. Games have been used to support real-life objectives many times in the past, such as sports being used to motivate exercise and healthy habits, or simulation games being used for training or skill development. This idea has now become especially popular. In the past decade, it has drawn a fair amount of interest both from academics and practitioners, because of two trends in modern culture: 1) Digitalization, which results from increased access to digital and mobile technologies that are now pervasive in our everyday lives, and 2) Ludification, which consists of the introduction of elements of playfulness into our lives and culture.
But how can games and play help achieve real-world goals? Play is often viewed as an activity of pure entertainment or leisure, which lacks the commitment to accomplish real-world goals, such as personal, educational, or business objectives. Thus, by introducing elements of play into the execution of similar tasks, will we not risk undermining commitment to the accomplishment of the intended goals? Or is it possible to instead use playful and gameful design to increase motivation to accomplish these tasks? Continue reading