Gamification of User Interface

20 July, 2022

“A game is a problem-solving activity, approached with a playful attitude.”
- Jesse Schell

Gamification is the application of game elements in a non-gaming environment with the intent to motivate users and enhance users’ participation to achieve the desired goal.

Gamification is achieved by taking the user experience, emotions and milestones into the account.

User types play a crucial role here as each user has a different personality and accordingly s/he behaves, which may steer the outcome of gamification.

Evaluation parameters are mapped according to the type of game to achieve the best and most efficient results out of it.

Gamification Vs Game Design
Gamification differs from game design to much extent. Gamification involves the organizational goals and has a material purpose, whereas game design is carried out to create a recreational atmosphere for people to come together, enjoy the game and have fun.

Gamification does not involve any real gameplay, but it incorporates game elements and game mechanics which bring fun factor and motivates users to achieve their goals. Gamification creates a game-like experience through intrinsic and extrinsic motivations which makes users feel motivated and excited throughout the process of achieving the end goal.

Game design has more inclination towards enjoyment and does not involve any evaluation to measure the success while gamification is driven by system specific goals and deploys metrics to evaluate the performance.

Role of Gamification in UX
A large number of user interfaces fall short of providing a good UX due to absence of engaging elements. Interfaces must be intuitive and act as stimuli to motivate users in fulfilling their tasks without any extra efforts. Game elements present, enhance intrinsic factors to boost user engagement throughout the process.

Gamification does not transform an interface into a game, but it brings fun and enjoyment factors, by injecting game elements which assist the users to overcome negative elements like boredom, irrelevance, etc. to achieve their goals.

UX designers incorporate game mechanics such as leaderboards, game rules, badges, etc. to influence the dynamics through intrinsic motivation. Gamification is built on the bridge between emotions and cognitive ability and results in positive outcomes. It promotes the overall task as a form of achievement and motivates the user to perform his best.

Framework for Gamification
As per our research, we have found that most of the gamified interfaces are based on the MDA (Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics) framework. This framework paves a way to create game elements based on the user experience and emotions which the designer wants to create. Game dynamics is something which is not completely in the designer's control as it includes the behavior of the user, actions by the user and the consequences of the actions taken by the user.

Introduction of higher proportions of game mechanics may lead to the complexity in the dynamics of the game, which may be good or bad, depending upon the goals to be achieved. But in some cases, we have observed that even simple mechanics can create complexity in dynamics and vice-versa. However, complexity is not directly proportional to the frustration or bad experience. Complexity, along with certain other factors, can create a better UX in more cases than not.

Gamification talks about introducing game elements to the non-game context which improves user’s engagement and motivation to achieve a set of goals in a productive and efficient manner. Gamification does not convert an interface into the game. Instead, it creates a game like experience around an activity to be done through a user interface, potentially elevating the overall UX.

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