gamification in tech

Gamification is not a new concept by any means. But it’s a word that has been used more and more in recent times, especially with anything pertaining the tech industry. Now, we tell you a bit about how this methodology is being applied on the current landscape. How gamification in tech works.

First, the basics. What is gamification? It’s really not very hard to understand. Gamification is a principle that applies game-design elements and dynamics to non-game contexts (in layman’s terms: real life).

Gamification can be applied on many aspects of our daily lives like user engagement, psychical training, personal management and public codes, but especially in the private sector relating to organizational management, businesses, and product development. The idea behind it is that it can help individuals to better streamline what actions to take by adhering to the “game rules”.

In the case of personal management, for example, gamification can be useful for things like personal finance, where someone can set “goals” and “objectives” with rewards. Similarly, many popular diets employ gamification methods to help the individual better comply with the requirements. The simple version: if it’s done like a game, people will tend to be more engaged.

When talking about tech and gamification, we have to see two sides of the same coin. While tech has helped boost the implementation of gamification on our daily lives, gamification itself has also helped many tech companies to take their products and their overall management to the next level.

A good example of that second case is how gamification in tech could be key for advancing cybersecurity. A global consulting firm called PwC believes that gaming can offer an effective method for remedying individuals’ inexperience with security. Their solution is Game of Threats, a game that educates employees by presenting them with real-life situations where they have to deal with security-related crisis.

A similar example is something done by security firm Digital Guardian, which is integrating gaming mechanics into what re usually very tiresome cybersecurity measures, to motivate employees to adhere to them. If a company wants to directly identify any weaknesses it has, it can employ gaming-inspired bounties to hackers to identify those weaknesses. Hackers are compensated with cash in many of those cases.

Person working in desktop computer
Gamification can be a huge help for software developers

Then it’s time to talk about how tech helps gamification. Alberto Mora from HCI Games Group, a Waterloo-based research firm that specializes in gamification, writes that the methodology could be key for software developing, particularly as it pertains to motivations and good practices for developers.

“Now that gamification has been established as a motivational technique, previously, we should look at the common sources of demotivation for software engineers,” he explains. According to the cited study, a common problem was developers struggling to identify with their work. A lack of sense of purpose, in other words.

Mora says that “At the academic level, many studies conducted by researchers have shown encouraging results after incorporating gamification techniques.” He continues: From the corporate point of view, gamification is being successfully applied. For example, to motivate software developers to adopt Agile Methodologies (the engineering methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve over time as needed for the particular software project) coming from the use of the traditional waterfall model of software development. This is a paradigm shift that generally has a very low adoption rate by software developers, and in some cases high resistance is perceived.”

He goes on to argue that the development of new terms like “Agile Gamification” seem to be “an example of the increasing interest in this field.”

But motivation is not the only issue, as “according to reports from consultancy,” the use og gamification can directly affect the code of software products, as game mechanics promote better practice and can lead to simpler, more effective code being written in the future.

Gamification as a concept is old, but as with many other things, tech is helping this interesting principle gain new dimensions and evolve in the different ways it can be used.