The Science of Gamification

Gamification, game mechanics added upon behavioral mechanics, game design, however you want to talk about the “g” word, one thing is clear—we are entering a new era of gaming. Players are shifting away from zero-sum games, opting for more social gaming counterparts that include elements of collaboration, altruism, and meaning beyond the big “W” or just as big “L”. To study the behavior of gamers, we need more than just subjective accounts as to why the world is seeing a change in gamer demographics. By understanding the ebb and flow of gamer demographics, designers will be able to design better-engaging gamified apps for the digital native world.

Flipping the point of focus, designers need to know more than just the psyche of gamers to be able to build successful gamified solutions. Basing implementation off of science and iterative design, designers constantly refer back to academic textbooks and research publications to find new, cutting edge ideas that potentially could hook the entire world on games. The following is an example of what a designers’ cookbook of scientific ingredients used in gamification looks like today. These sciences range in focus on the end user to the designer, including topics such as anthropology to computer science.

Gamification Cookbook

1. Anthropology

Anthropology is the study of humanity and its interaction under many different social contexts. It is important to remember that play is a natural state of learning. From play, games are created from rule-based logic. Sports are a great example of great games that have stood the test of time because they incorporate both play and game elements. Studying humanity as a whole gives us insight as to how we globally like to play and game.

2. Sociology

Sociology is the study of a society. Similar to the study of humanity except this looks at a smaller subset of people, typically specific cultures, cities, etc. Great design principles come from understanding cultural gamification. Each culture views games differently in relation to their use, so it would be important to understand a culture before designing for its members. The cultural dimensions provide a great place to start.