Gamification: Is it the new way to market?

Gamification may be a word that you have heard recently. Is it just the new trend on the block or will it prove to be an effective way to market a business?

The definition of gamification is up for debate, but one accepted definition is from (Marczewski, 2015). He defines gamification as the following: “The use of game design metaphors” “to create more game-like experiences”. (Burke, 2014) has stated in his book that gamification is “the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals”.

Gamification is not something that has just been made up, it is backed up by extensive academic theory. (Bartle, 2003) and his player type model was the forerunner in game theory. His four player types are a basic model in understanding how people act or react in a game based situation. (Marczewski, 2015) expands and adapts on Bartle to include intrinsic and extrinsic player types, and shows how player types can be used in business contexts. Gamification also expands far further than just marketing and “player types”, and can be used in HR, economics etc.

Many serious, overly formal, or more strict business people may think that gamification is just games, and games are a waste of time in the workplace. However, it is taking the business world by storm; the global gamification market is estimated to be worth more than 11.1 billion USD by 2020 (PR Newswire, 2016).

There are many hundreds of successful examples of gamification. One of my favorite examples is that of the “Piano stairs” which has 22 million views:

Video Source:

The piano stairs is one fun example of getting people to do things that they would not normally do, if it is challenging, different or fun. This simply was not pointless either, 66% more than normal chose the stairs compared to the escalator. That is HUGE! Imagine a 66% increase in web traffic, page views, likes or some other metric that you would like for your business. Turns out a 66% increase is pretty reasonable, looking at case studies like SAP (Enterprise, 2013), who’s community network regamified its already mature reputation system, leading to an increase in usage by 400% and community feedback by 96%. Not convinced? Okay, here’s more:

Gamification can be a double edged sword, however. If done incorrectly, it can end really badly. Take note:

“A third-grade teacher at Mill Plain Elementary school in Vancouver, WA, required students to earn $50 of Monopoly money to buy toys, popcorn or pizza or use it to go to the bathroom. Students in the class earn money by doing things, such as good deeds, being nice, and finishing school work.

Because students who had not enough money left and had to choose between a tangible reward and a bathroom break chose the reward, at least two students peed themselves. This was considered a health issue.” – Enterprise Gamification (2014).

To conclude, gamification can be very effective for any business. But gamification isn’t just adding a game or making something fun. For gamification to truly work, it needs to utilize the strong academic theory that backs it, weather than be from (Raftopoulos, 2015) Chou (Economou et al 2015), or any other of the academic names in the industry. Any business can afford to implement gamification, but not many businesses can afford to implement it incorrectly, as the incorrect example shows.




Bartle, R (2003) “Designing Virtual Worlds” New Riders; 01 edition.

Burke, B (2014) “Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things” Bibliomotion Inc

Economou; Doumanis;  Pedersen;Kathrani;  Mentzelopoulos; Bouki (2015). “Evaluation of a dynamic role-playing platform for simulations based on Octalysis gamification framework”. Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments. IOS Press. 19 (Workshop Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Intelligent Environments): 388–395

Enterprise (2013).

Enterprise Gamification (2014).

Marczewski, A. (2015) ‘Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play: Gamification, Game Thinking & Motivational Design.’ Lightning Source UK Ltd. Milton Keynes UK.


MarigoRaftopoulos (2015)

PR Newswire (2016).—analysis-trends–opportunities-report-2016-2020—key-vendors-leveleleven-arcaris-inc–badgeville-inc-300222904.html

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