Gamification: What is it and How it Can Be Successful in Web Design

GamificationBlogWe’ve talked about psychological techniques to spark action on one’s website. Today, we will explore what motivates humans to perform those actions.  Money, status, and passion/interest are all strong motivators to us as humans.  There would be no desire to perform an action if there were no motivation from the user. Simply asking them to download an app to give feedback needs motivation by incentive. What would benefit the user to take up time and space on their phone to fulfill this action?

Gamification is the answer to that sparks this motivation. Gamification takes elements of game playing (scoring, competition, rules…etc) and combines it with online marketing techniques to encourage engagement with a particular service or product. The gaming industry knows how to keep users engaged and dedicated to spend hours trying to beat a high score or to advance to the next level.  The dedication is motivated by advancement being shown and rewards being given.

How do we apply this to a website or app? Lets look at an example:

Foursquare vs. Dodgeball
Dodgeball was bought by Google, but was soon abandoned a few years later due to users not getting the point of the service. The founder of Dodgeball then created Foursquare. The differences in the success rates were drastic, as Foursquare offered incentives or rewards to keep users motivated. Users would be rewarded badges and discounts for continued usage and gain title of the “mayor” for a venue they frequently visited.  This reward system created a desire for Foursquare that had lacked in the previous Dodgeball concept.

Here are three success stories of how gamification can make a positive impact.

1 – Foldit
Puzzle game, Foldit, made a breakthrough in AIDS research that scientists couldn’t solve. Foldit is an online video game about protein folding as it utilizes game-like puzzles and allows people to interact all over the world. Goal is to play and compete in completing various protein structures based off the researcher’s criteria. To everyone’s astonishment, 240,000 players registered and a solution to the M-PMV structure was found in 10 days, creating a breakthrough in AIDS research.

2 – CrowdRise
An inspired Edward Norton created CrowdRise knowing that people are less concerned about helping the world when their minds are occupied by games.  CrowdRise is a charity-focused game where people can create pages and profiles, accumulate points, and compete based on how much they can fundraise. Basing their techniques off of basic points, badges, and leaderboards, CrowdRise was able to attract 33 million players and raise hundreds of millions of dollars for non-profits worldwide.

3 – Opower
OPower encourages others to use less energy by using gamification. OPower works with utility companies to provide data on household consumption use, compares them to neighbors, and notifies you if close to a new milestone. Since 2012, 2% less energy, or 1 Terawatt, is being used in the world. This translates to 120M in utility bill savings. Not to mention this decreases pollution by keeping 100,000 cars off the road.


Gamification is not just a term used for gaming websites. Gamification is a strategy. If you’d like to explore how gamification strategies could enhance your website, contact the team at Stellar Blue.

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