The last couple of years has seen a major turn of events in the field of software and applications. So much so, that currently it’s not the functions which are turning out to be the USP, but the modus the organisation follows to address those functions. For a comparison, take Facebook and Orkut. Both social networking sites, and yet Facebook turned out to be the bigger player. The reason: it addressed the function of social networking in a manner that was much more appealing to the target audience. Going along these lines, it’s quite interesting to note the presence of Gamification in major work cultures. In this article, I talk about what gamification really is, and how it can prove to be the turning point in the entire Quantified Self Movement.
The root word of gamification is, well, ‘game’. Gamification refers to the act of applying gaming or playing fundamentals in a non-play environment. Think of it as applying game rules to an otherwise arduous task, in order to make it more interesting.
This very definition can also be altered depending on whether you’re a game developer/designer or a consumer. Game devs and designers often define gamification in terms of utlising game mechanics, technology and development strategies from games in non-gaming environment (which is essentially the definition I gave earlier). But on the other hand, people outside of the industry also add a few more features to this definition, such as leader boards, badges, points and so on.
In fact, gamification has quite a lot of scope in the future. According to M2, the market for gamification apps and services rose to about half a billion dollars in 2013, and could rise to $2.8 billion by 2016.
Long story short, gamification makes everyday activities fun, simply by bringing in a gaming environment into the equation.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF GAMIFICATION
To understand how gamification can actually aid the Quantified Self Movement, it is imperative to see the building blocks of the term. Although many experts sum these elements in various forms, I see only four terms in the equation:
First off, there’s the prospect of INDICATORS. You need to see numbers, or quantifiable results, which show that you are progressing. Think of it this way: When you played games like Mario, you could keep a count on the number of coins you’ve collected. More the number of coins, the more you’re progressing. Likewise, gamification components such as points, badges, even encouraging feedback in the form of likes and retweets, will assert the user that he/she is progressing.
The next element is DESIGN. The gaming environment must have a simple, intuitive and logical design to it, that must be connected effectively to the goals that the user is aiming to achieve.
Besides the above, there must be BALANCE. Gamification must keep a balanced aim at two things: making processes fun, and at the same time utilising the resources efficiently in order to achieve the organisation (or the user’s) goals.
Finally, there’s RESULT. Levelling up, defeating the monster in the castle and rescuing the princess. The purpose of Gamification should be aimed at a quantifiable result that must be appealing to the user. This key feature ultimately proves to be the driving force behind the user’s activities.
CONNECTING THE QUANTIFIED SELF & GAMIFICATION
Herein lies the million dollar question: How can gamification aid the Quantified Self Movement?
Let’s consider three processes to start off with. These processes are common to both the terms, and I’ll explain it soon.
The aim of Quantified Self is to increase engagement with the body, so that one can collect data and analyse it more effectively. Many scientific studies, along with research in this area, have proved that the engagement factor increases manifold when the mind perceives something as a game. Ergo, gamification.
Now, with Quantified Self, the three processes can be expanded as under:
And with Gamification, the three processes take more meaning.
In fact, Alan Bachers, Director of the Neurofeedback Foundation, summed it up nicely.
“Movements like the Quantified Self will make everything we do into our own game of self-improvement, learning, and real-time advances uniquely crafted to how we learn and what we want to learn or become proficient at. People’s ability to advance in any field will be self-controlled, automatically recorded, and unique skill sets will emerge as needed.”
Gamification will present a unique outlook at the way we perceive our actions. In the arena of gathering data, it will make the user more driven and will therefore produce much better and quantifiable results!