For the past year or so, I’ve been using the language learning app Duolingo in an attempt to master Swedish. The app works with a streak system, which niftily coaxes me to pick up my phone at least once a day and do some exercises. This grants me XP points and lands me on a scoreboard with other people using the app. Sure, a textbook has its own charm – but doesn’t that sound exciting? That’s because Duolingo is one of the many programs out there using something called gamification.
Gamification, as the name suggests, is defined as “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts”. In recent years, gamification has made its way into different aspects of our daily lives – often without us even realising it. At its core, the concept of gamification harkens back to the idea of homo ludens, “the playing man”; first developed by Dutch historian Johan Huizinga, the homo ludens theory suggests that humans are beings driven by fun, first and foremost. If the success of gamification is anything to go by, Huizinga was spot-on in his observation – the introduction of gamification has changed our lives in a plethora of ways.
Perhaps the biggest influence of gamifying so far has been in the way we learn. Applications like Duolingo and music learning platform Yousician have completely innovated the way we learn new skills: gamification has proven incredibly effective in not only skill acquisition, but skill retention, as well. Somehow, applying game elements to learning brings out something in our brains that makes us more eager to learn. It’s not that new of a concept if you think about it; fun, play, and discovery are the ways how children have learned since the dawn of time. The gamification of learning is to adults what building blocks and puzzles are to toddlers. It’s brilliant in how human of an approach it is! It’s not hard to imagine why gamification, particularly in education, has been as successful as it is.
Gamification has also proven successful when it comes to encouraging behavioral changes. On a personal level, one example of where game elements have entered our lives is in our health and fitness habits. For example, there are many apps out there that help you remember to drink water in a playful way; think of Plant Nanny, the app that has you take care of a plant by letting it know when you’ve drunk a glass of water. Another great example is Fitbit, which tracks everything from your activity to your sleep. Gamification has also impacted our behaviour in a work environment; work environment gamification has been successful in boosting employee engagement, productivity, and overall employee satisfaction! Talk about a powerful tool!
In short, there’s a myriad of ways in which gamification has changed our lives for the better. More yet; in the coming years, it’s bound to become even more influential. Who knows; maybe one of the next great ideas in gamification could be yours! If you’re looking to learn more about gamification from experts in the field, The Shortcut has exactly the opportunity you’re looking for – join us for our online event My Startup Debut – Game Your Future on April 30th and secure your free ticket here!
By Charlotte Van Hulle – April 21th, 2020