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Based on the experience of specific people and organizations, we explain how gamification can be a method for research, education, improvement of the urban environment, and organization of interaction between different subjects. This article deals with the definition of gamification and its conceptual and practical limits.

Gamification is the use of some aspects of games in non-gaming practices. According to Salen and Zimmermann, a game is a system in which players are involved in solving a piece-by-piece conflict, which is defined by the rules and is expressed in a quantitative result. Gamification is distinguished from other game formats because its participants are focused on the purpose of their real activity, not on the game as such. Game elements are integrated into real situations to motivate specific forms of behavior under given conditions.

Gamification can be integrated into any field of education. A striking example is the boring element of student learning, such as writing academic papers. A student at one of the popular universities suggested gamification in his department and said the following about it: "At university, the most boring thing for me is writing papers. So one day, when I needed to write an essay for me on sociology, I suggested to my teacher that I use one of the gamification elements, like game levels. 

The essence of this method involves assigning levels depending on the number and quality of essays written. The levels are of the following types: Junior, Middle, and Senior. If a student receives the highest level before the end of the semester, he or she has the right to reduce the number of questions on the exam ticket. This adds extra motivation." In this article, we will look in detail at what gamification is and how to implement it into the learning process.

What are the Functions of Gamification

1) Gamification is a method of increasing the effectiveness of learning or work.

When we become accustomed to repetitive activities, they become automatic: we stop thinking about the result's quality and contribution to it. Routinization reduces motivation and dissipates attention. The opposite is the flow's state - a high degree of isolation at work. In this state, we do not remember the year's plate and achieve maximum concentration and efficiency. Psychometric analysis testifies to a significant dependence between the components of the gameplay process and the flow state. They are characterized by the same conditions (clear communication of goals, balance of skills and stimuli, control and feedback) as well as possible results (merging of actions and notification, concentration, loss of perception of time, and loss of self-awareness).

2) Gamification can direct human behavior.

It is similar to persuasive techniques designed to influence behavior without unduly forcing change. Approval through points and advancement in ranking can work as an incentive to act in an approved way. People change undesirable behaviors in favor of more effective ones to achieve the goal.

3) Gamification is a barrier.

Each professional group produces professional jargon: formal and informal terminology. It facilitates communication within the community but makes it difficult to understand others. In order not to spend years on the division of understanding, gamification creates a free of specific words and allows participants to focus on the joint goal and the terms of its achievement.

4) Gamification directs game patterns toward the resolution of life situations.

It reorganizes and transforms experience, which is often routine or difficult for "non-experts. The main goal of game elements is to create a space for productive competition and cooperation.

Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash

Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash

What Gamification Is Not

Gamification is a way to influence human behavior based on game elements. Transforming experience through games makes social and psychological restrictions that enable the withdrawal of human potential. For the process to be called amicable, it must have four characteristics, which Jen McGonigal criticized in her TedEX speech:

  • Clearly defined goals that motivate participation in the game;
  • Logical and follow-up rules that set the limits and framework for achieving the set goals;
  • A stable system of communication, which ensures that the goals are achieved, and the players adhere to the rules;
  • Voluntary commitment to learning the game and following the rules to achieve the goal.

Sebastian Deterding and his colleagues consider four concepts based on the idea of the game: gamification, serious games, fun, and game design. The differences between them lie in two dimensions:

  • gaming/playing (gaming/playing) - referring to the conjugation and regulation of activities;
  • whole/parts - indicates the extent of integration of game elements into the process.
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Serious games (serious games) have a specific goal aimed at solving real-life situations.

Toys (toys) are games that do not have clear rules and are not aimed at a specific result or goal; they are focused only on the experience of positive emotions or uninhibited investigation.

The playful design also does not have a specific goal supported by the rules; it is used to make the process more human, appealing, and easy to accept.

Gamification uses game elements, but the process's basis remains the same. However, these concepts are more theoretical and can successfully cooperate in practice.

How Game Imagination Works

Gamification does not offer universal tools which can improve any process. There are clear requirements for the implementation of game techniques and for the object of gamification itself.

Game elements can enhance the process or reduce it to nothing. The use of games does not create a zero-sum experience. Gamification cannot correct mistakes made at the level of planning and management, but it can enhance the already created and well-logged model and increase motivation.

Based on the thoughts of the well-known experts engaged in research and practice of gamification, we have developed a few suggestions for implementing this approach.

Gamification requires specificity. It is possible to gamify only those processes that have clear goals and objectives. In any game, which is composed of several levels, you need to perform some skills to move to the next one. It gives an understanding of the competence and the result of their actions. Formulating the goal - is an important and difficult process that requires creativity and logic, but without it, even a good idea can not become successful.

Necessary study of the audience. To create a favorable space for achieving the result, you must understand the attitudes and values of the target group. It determines the design, language style, and manner of intervention. The city administration website and the dating app differ in nature, how information is presented, and the users' goals.

People always have certain expectations about interaction with others. Violation of these expectations can cause stress, dissatisfaction, and a desire to avoid contact. For example, overly graphic design, light-hearted vocabulary, or annoying chat window is more likely to put the credibility of the official body in question rather than looking like a "friendly interface."

The design should organize the interaction between the actors in the process and not just be palatable and understandable to the user. Integration of game elements into non-game processes should occur in the interdisciplinary field and be tested at different stages.

The development of the visual part and process design is based on logical models focusing on a certain target. For example, if a student in an online course completes the first unit by X date, he or she receives a bonus in the form of a certain number of points to his or her certificate. Thus, the aggregate behavior among the group participants is activated, which contributes to achieving the best individual results.

Brian Barkle, Vice President of Research at Gartner, voiced that the game's development is important not only for the obvious components such as leadership achievements and balls. Much more important is the creation of mechanisms for balancing competition and cooperation.

It is necessary to combine the action and the instrument relevant to it. At the time, it is necessary to go through the trials and errors a few times to be satisfied with the feasibility and effectiveness of the implementation of game elements.

Simply put, game design elements, such as ratings or avatars - are not a success. Gamification cannot change the nature of the process. If it is long, routine, and unpleasant, the addition of a few principles of game design does not make it more appealing to users. It is unlikely that it would be successful in trying to gamify the bogan behind seals and signatures between the offices of the not-so-attractive civil servants. Often people act irrationally, but it is not worth giving them a non-committal attitude under the guise of a rousing game.

Synopsis

Most current challenges are on the cusp of several dimensions and require complex solutions. To achieve them, it is necessary to involve different actors and provide a framework for effective interdisciplinary work.

Gamification does not provide direct answers to questions but offers space for collaborative exploration. The organization of human behavior suggested by it can be used for the partisanship of different scales, for example, for solving the problems of the yard or the city. Given its potential and limitations, gamification is a spur of experimentation and discussion.