What is Gamification?

The online Oxford Dictionary defines gamification as:

“The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.”
– (2017)

This means that gamification is the applying of game mechanics to things that would not typically be games. This is done to make the task more interesting, more engaging, and more  memorable.

Examples of Gamification

Example 1: FreeRice

Opening Page of
Playing FreeRice, with the score on the left of the screen

FreeRice is a browser game based at The game itself is a basic multiple-choice quiz, which can be taken on numerous different subjects including: English Vocabulary (default quiz), World Landmarks, Human Anatomy, and Chemical Symbols. The players progress is shown in the rice bowl on the right-hand-side of the screen, with every Hundred grains of rice marked in the top right of the game space. Players with accounts can save and track their progress, and can create or join a group, and appear on the site’s weekly Leader boards.However, FreeRice differs from other quizzes, as every time the player answers a question correctly, the site’s sponsors donate ten grains of rice to help feed the starving. The site is owned and maintained by the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP). This allows people to donate food to those that need it all over the world, without having to go out and give money to charity, whilst also providing meaningful feedback to the players.

Example 2: Khan Academy

Khan Academy user profile
Selecting an Avatar
Energy points needed to unlock the evolved profile images
The range of subjects to choose from on Khan Academy

Khan Academy is an online learning tool hosted at It allows members to watch videos and complete practice sessions in order to learn about any of the many subjects that it offers. However, that is not all that it does. Khan Academy allows the user to earn: Badges, Patches, and Energy points. Badges are given for performing certain actions or completing tasks, they range from Meteorite badges (very easy to earn) to Black Hole Badges (extremely difficult to earn). Patches are similar to badges, but are earned for completing special challenges. Energy Points are earned by doing tasks on Khan Academy, but are not a measure of level of skill or mastery, just how much you are doing on the website. Energy point allow the user to unlock new profile pictures for your account. The number of Badges, Patches, and Energy points that someone has earned is displayed on that user’s profile page.

Why is Gamification Good (or Bad)?

Gamification has been proven to be able to hold people’s attention much better than other methods of learning or advertising,, as well as making those  those people more receptive to information, making it easier for them to learn. It also encourages people to return and play the game again.

However, it has also been shown that a bad example of gamification can reduce interest, and be detrimental and have the opposite effect to a good example. Or, if the gamified product is too focussed on the game element, this can get in the way of the original message and purpose of the product.

References: [Accessed: 7th January 2017] [Accessed: 7th January 2017] [Accessed: 7th January 2017] [Accessed: 7th January 2017] [Accessed: 7th January 2017] [Accessed: 7th January 2017]


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