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The meaning of gamification: how does gamification work?

The meaning of gamification

Playfulness is part of our everyday life, we are born this way, it is coded into us. Think of childhood skill development and learning. But playfulness does not appear only in the development of children: we can see it more and more often in various fields of education, the workplace, healthcare and culture. But the story doesn’t end here: we transferred the experience to the online space as well. Today gamification plays an increasingly important role on the design table of digital products. How? This is what this blog post will cover.

The meaning of gamification

Gamification is about smuggling game mechanics into a non-gaming environment to increase user experience and engagement.

How does this manifest itself in our everyday lives? You must have met this:

  • with Waze, which gives rank and rewards
  • with the loyalty program of a store chain (buy X times and then get a discount)
  • with different webshops’ sack cat concept
  • or with any sport motivational app

Gamification therefore builds on the gaming experience. We find joy in it just like in the case of a board game or a team sport. Users are attracted by the pressure of competition and the (well-deserved) feeling of success.

The term is attributed to Nick Pelling, who first called the methodology gamification. The term was created from the merging of the words "game" and "fication". Roughly translated, this means "making it game-like".

Gamification is primarily used online (digitally), for example, during the content development of various software, but of course it can also be used offline (analog) in various areas of life.

It helps the development of social and cognitive skills. These include, among others:

  • the communication,
  • teamwork,
  • information processing,
  • problem solving,
  • conflict management
  • and creativity.

Games can be addictive for a reason. However, we can also use this mechanism of action for good purposes.

How gamification works

How gamification works

How does it work in theory?

Specialists call the "flow" experience of games and the mechanism of action as follows:

  1. Ideal leveling: ideal leveling is the basis of every game design. Every game has an ultimate goal that users want to achieve. On the way to the goal, it is worth defining several smaller sub-goals. This will motivate users to progress and complete each level. And every single experience of success rolls them onward in this "flow" as a positive experience.
  2. Optimal load: this element is about creating an ideal balance: tasks and levels are designed to balance the users' abilities. If we have done it right, our users will be able to progress between the individual sections at a suitable pace and will feel satisfied. During planning, make sure that the task is neither too easy nor unenjoyably difficult.

Reward system: the third critical element is the thorough design of the reward system. This means that users are immediately rewarded after completing certain levels, thus evaluating their performance. It is important that they can use the rewards in some way, but some tips and practices will be read later.

Gamification techniques and elements

Game design elements are the basic building blocks of gamification applications. Typical game design elements include levels, points, ranks, lists, virtual currency, and other player features. Of course, these techniques can all be found in a video game, but let's translate this to the example of applications, SaaS and SaaP solutions.

Levels: moving to new and new levels gives continuity to the experience. By using levels, larger tasks can be broken down into smaller units, so users can see exactly where they are and how much effort they still need to reach the next level. The following element is also related to this.

Progress bar: a progress indicator is useful to indicate where the given user is in the process. This can also be used as a percentage.

Points: points are the most commonly used gamification solutions. Users can collect points by completing various tasks and achieving goals. It is worth making these points "spendable" so they can be used in some way. So the value of the points does not appear in the fact that as many of them are available as possible, but in their redeemability.

Ranks, badges: by completing the levels, you can get different ranks or badges. These symbolize the player's achievements, showing what levels and goals a user has completed. The rank is therefore nothing more than a visual representation of the individual results achieved. This can be, for example: beginner, advanced, professional, grandmaster, etc. The names of the ranks should be adapted to our own target audience and market.

Ranking Lists: public leaderboards rank users according to their results. This can be a great way to maintain the competitive spirit and motivation.

Friends: in order to boost team spirit, a good solution is to provide the opportunity to make friends and acquaintances. An additional possibility would be if the users organize themselves into teams and find solutions for progress.

Statuses: the visibility of your available (online) or offline status can definitely be useful if you plan to travel with friends.

Virtual payment: by implementing virtual payment, users can purchase other values. This is called an in-app purchase.

Statistics: a menu item summarizing the individual statistics of the users. For example, there are performance graphs that provide information about users' performance compared to their previous performance. It differs from leaderboards as it does not measure performance against other users, but rather shows an individual's achievements over time.

Benefits: any other positive "distinction", indication:

  • setting a unique username or nickname
  • unique design such as font style, colors, wallpapers
  • creation of unique user avatars and profile photos


Gamification is a pleasant surprise. Give expected and unexpected rewards to users, so they can be much more satisfied and efficient while using our service in the long run.

Gamification proves to be particularly effective in the field of education. In summary: gamification does not mean turning the process of education into a frivolous game. On the contrary! Gamification means bringing the operation and mechanism of games into digital (and analog) teaching methods.

What does gamification mean?

Gamification is the application of game design elements and game principles in a non-game environment.

What are the elements of gamification?

Typical game design elements include levels, points, ranks, lists, virtual currency, and other player features.

How much does gamification cost?

It is worth determining how much to spend on gamification developments in X percent of the total budget of a project. This should be done according to the budget of each project.

Do you have any questions left? Can we help with gamification? Get in touch with us!

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