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Gamification – a Small Play for Game Dynamics

by Mike Rollings  |  April 4, 2011  |  6 Comments

Gamification, where organizations incorporate game dynamics into applications, is one of the latest trends.  Many view it as a silver bullet to load into marketing websites, innovation tools, worker productivity tools, ERP systems, and social environments. The hope is that these applications will attract and retain ‘players’ that will get hooked into playing their new game, and make the mundane more fun. Not a bad application for game dynamics and the use of game theory, but it is the easy association and a small play related to its potential.

Many are looking at gamification as strictly creating application software that uses game concepts to motivate players.  They desire to create software that provides:

  • Free and safe place to play
  • Accelerated feedback cycles
  • Clear goals and rules
  • Achievable goals/challenges
  • Status/Recognition

However, this is a small play for the use of game dynamics, and it misses the purpose behind game play research. Think about when you were young and the games you used to play. Think about how you could creatively conjure a game from just about anything, the roles you and your friends would play, the rules that you would invent, and the mental energy that flowed into their creation. There were no limits for our imagination, our willingness to try and error, or collaborative energy between our friends. The environment you played within was the safe and supportive world supplied by your friends and your mind.

Instead of looking at the bulleted list above as a set of software requirements, we need to use these as organizational requirements and principles. They need to be used as guides for every individual to create an environment where the constructs of play become commonplace. This is the massive potential for the use of game dynamics. Giving us the freedom to create, innovate, try, error, and incorporate play into our everyday lives.

Category: human-behavior  management  transformation  

Tags: behavior  empathy  innovation  transformation  

Mike Rollings
Research VP
5 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Mike Rollings is VP of Gartner Research within the Professional Effectiveness team. His research discusses what IT professionals need to know about transformation, innovation, human behavior, contextual strategy, collaborative organizational change, communication and influence, and cross-discipline effectiveness . His research can be read by IT professionals with access to Gartner for Technical Professionals (GTP) research. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Gamification – a Small Play for Game Dynamics

  1. Great to see to game mechanics are more widely translated into everyday mechanics. The last century and a half the analytical homo sapiens seems to have reached it’s ceiling of development and is finally acknowledging the importance of the more creative playfulness for the homo ludens.

  2. Jude Umeh says:

    Interesting to think the concept of gamification, which has been around for ages, is only now just becoming ‘one of the latest trends’. I recently revewed a book called Gamestorming (see: which gave a comprehensive account of the use and application of games in the enterprise. Some of the examples cited have been around for a while, so no, gaminfication is not new, but perhaps it recognition in a broader context is.

  3. Mike Rollings says:

    I agree Jude, and it is just as amazing that many times it is thought about solely in the context of software.

  4. […] information and alternative opinions, check out Brian Burke’s blog, Mike Rolling’s blog and a Gartner research note by Brian Blau (for Gartner […]

  5. Hi Mike,

    I think you’d enjoy Sebastian Deterding’s talk – “Meaningful Play: Getting Gamification Right”, which you can see on YouTube:

    And his slides are available here:

    best, – rajat

  6. Mike Rollings says:

    I really appreciate the link to Sebastian Deterding’s talk. I watched the full 50 minutes.

    If you substitute “organization mechanics” for “game mechanics” in his talk, then you really see my point. How many organizations test-play their new employee review system? If we designed organizational mechanics by applying his key points in the summary (time mark 43:22), we would have organizations that embody play and provide meaning for our work.


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