Gamification: 10 techniques you can use instantly

‘We should use gamification!’ When you run brainstorm-sessions about changing people’s behaviours, you will hear lines like these on a regular basis. It sounds intriguing. But what is gamification exactly? And how do you put it into practice? In this article, I will share ten simple techniques that you can use to get started with gamification.

Play is not just fun and entertaining, it’s also exciting, surprising, and informative. That’s why games are mainstream and all around us. Just think about board games, computer games, sports games, tv-game-shows, escape rooms, etc. Play is natural for human beings. Young children play a lot and that’s why they develop so fast. They learn by playing. By trying out and discovering new things, they stimulate their brains.

What is Gamification?
Gamification is the process of using game mechanics in a non-game environment. You can create a game (or use separate game-elements) for several reasons. You can use it to create an experience and to make your message come across. Using gamification can make your message more memorable. Gamification can also be used to encourage certain behaviour (e.g. by making it fun) or to increase involvement. With gamification, you can make it fun to learn something new (e.g. by turning lessons into fun and playful missions).

Imagine you’ve just introduced a new intranet in your organisation. You want to encourage employees to start using the platform. Perhaps you want them to take a specific action (e.g. completing their profile), or maybe you simply want to inform them about all the wonderful features that are now available to them. Sure, you can set up a communication campaign or ask the IT department to explain all the possibilities that the platform has to offer, but it’s unlikely that your colleagues care much about the new system. They are busy people and have enough to worry about. Besides, people are lazy. People dislike learning something new, unless they’ve chosen to do so themselves. It takes time and effort to learn something new, and the process itself can be stressful and lead to frustration. By using gamification you can develop several playful ways to introduce the new intranet and to motivate employees to get started with it.

Let’s look at ten ways to apply gamification for your challenge. Use these techniques as a source of inspiration to find novel ways to encourage your clients, colleagues or stakeholders to change their behaviour. (Want to know more? Don’t hesitate to contact me.)

10 gamification techniques you can use instantly

1. Create ‘flow’
If a task is too easy, you will get bored. If, on the other hand, it is too hard, you will feel frustrated. When creating a game or game experience, you will have to find a balance. A task should be challenging, yet doable. If you find that sweet spot, users will reach something that the American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls ‘flow‘.

2. Let users ‘complete’ a task 
People hate uncompleted tasks. It makes us feel uncomfortable. The urge for completion is a powerful mechanism that you can utilise to encourage certain behaviour. Think, for instance, about the LinkedIn message ‘Your profile is 75% complete…’ Make sure that part of the task is already done, or at least easy to complete. This will nudge people to start (or finish) a task.

3. Set up appropriate challenges
Small easy-to-do challenges are perfect to get people going. Because these challenges are so simple, people can’t help but try them out. Think about challenges like Facebook’s; ‘Invite your friends and get the first 100 likes for your page.’ Tiny objectives like these will engage people. Because people will spend time playing, they will appreciate the experience more and they will keep playing to see what’s next…

4. Allow players to customise things
Every human being has an urge for self-expression. When you allow users to use their creativity to create something (e.g. a page, profile, content, etc.), they will invest time, have fun, and find your product/service more valuable.

5. Allow users to ‘unlock’ stuff
Being able to unlock items (e.g. interesting content, secret elements, or special superpowers) can be an interesting way to motivate people to ‘play your game’. Make sure to show a preview of these secret items upfront, so players know that there is something to unlock. This will help to spark their curiosity and fanaticism.

6. Make people curious
Curiosity is a compelling way to keep people engaged. You can make people curious by creating a sequence (e.g. ‘this is challenge 1 of 6’) or by using a ‘cliffhanger’, so users want to know how the story ends.

7. Use the element of surprise
Make sure the basic game elements are recognisable (e.g. the arena, characters, missions, game-play, etc.). This way, players understand and will get used to the game. They discover how to play and what to expect. However, once in a while you’ll need to add unexpected and new elements to keep the game exciting.

8. Recognise achievements
If you praise users for their achievements (e.g. 50 likes on a message, 12 posts, etc.), you will make them feel proud. And this will lead to more game-play. When they don’t expect the encouragement, the effect will be even bigger!

9. Start a competition
By letting players compete with each other, you will add an extra layer to your game. It’s often much more fun to win (or beat someone) than to play all by yourself. Besides, a ‘battle’ can lead to more playing because players will keep challenging each other for a rematch.

10. Let users collaborate
Competition is powerful, but so is collaboration. Let players work together. It’s more positive than playing against each other and it’s great for team building. Players will also learn to communicate better.


Looking for more ways to apply gamification?

The ten techniques in this article are only the tip of the iceberg. Looking for more help? Give us a call on 0031 10 3070 534 or sent us an email via We are looking forward to hearing from you!




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