Gamification: Part of Your Life Whether You Know It Or Not

In Lifestyle by UFSocial Staff

by UFSocial contributor Jack Holahan

Recently, I have found myself trying to hold on to the incorrect assumption that I’ve been immune to gamification my whole life. But it turns out that I was wrong.

It reminds me of an episode of How I Met Your Mother in which the characters each realize they have “gaps” in their knowledge of the everyday world: not being able to pronounce the word “chameleon”, not knowing how to use a screwdriver, etc. I’m now painfully aware of a “gap” I have; not only am I positive that gamification is everywhere, but my entire life has been pervaded by gamification although not with the negative connotation that I initially (and ignorantly) assigned to it.

As I think back to my childhood, the most glaring example of gamification has to be Christmas. If I were to critique the gamification of the Christmas holiday as Walz did with his selected productivity apps, it would check off all of the 4 gamification theory boxes.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, iPad, Computer Games, gamers, political cartoon

First, anyone who has had a wonderful Christmas season can attest to the Neurobiological Theory at work.  The rush I felt on Christmas Eve as I attempted to sleep aside, each task that I had to complete prior to that night (sitting on Santa’s lap, writing down my Christmas list, etc.) just built up the anticipation to the impending explosion of bliss on Christmas morning.

After opening my presents, the first thing I would do every Christmas was call my cousins to brag about what I got and how it was better than what they got (clearly checking the box of the Social Status Theory).

As Walz mentioned in relation to the Expectancy Theory, “If we believe that a raise is a distinct possibility—and that good work (the behavior) will result in a raise (the outcome)—we will be driven to work harder to achieve a raise.”

All I have to do is plug in my coveted Christmas list in place of “a raise” and striving to find myself on the Nice List in place of “good work” and the math checks out.

Lastly, put all of those things together and you can see the Goal Theory at work. All year long, I found myself holding my tongue when a fight would break out between my sister and I or immediately leaving my favorite T.V show to attend to a random chore my father would throw my way. All of these moments came with real-time feedback as well in the form of that constant parental reminder, “Santa is watching…have you been a good boy?”Now, Christmas is delving into gamification exponentially coming at us via all platforms (Mobile/Social/Geo-Location) to get us excited about discounts, trending gifts, and even Santa’s current location and expected arrival.

As I mentioned, I was previously unaware of the affect gamification had on my life mostly due to the fact that I am not very brand loyal. Rewards, Frequent Flyer Miles, and the like, never enticed me due to my impatience and propensity to go with the cheapest option available. However, I have realized that I frequently use my wife’s phone number each time I check out at Duane Reade/Walgreens to take advantage of discounts. This made me wonder if I chose those items based on their unit price or if I was merely intrigued by the sale sticker. =

More recently, I have found myself immersed in an iPhone game, Minion Rush, due to my affinity for the movie, Despicable Me. The game, similar to Temple Run, quickly lost my interest, but the ease of playing the game, as well as the familiarity of the characters, must have made it a successful endeavor for the franchise much in the same way The Curse of Oak Island game helped the show gain wide-ranging popularity.

In terms of the evolution of gamification, I’m particularly curious of the way it’s affecting the fitness/wellness industry.

The positive change in our society as a result of the accountability offered up by Fitness apps (from MyFitnessPal to ClassPass) is astounding. With these apps the connectivity is instantaneous, the community seems to be infinite, and people are having fun becoming the healthiest version of themselves.

I never thought I’d enjoy my FitBit Charge 2 as much as I do, but the interface has grown to be so intuitive and the connection to the community is immediate, which I find extremely motivational.

The studio where I work as a Fitness Instructor has even rolled out a Challenge that is wrought with the building blocks of gamification including: small rewards along the way culminating in a grand prize, chances to be entered in a raffle if you follow our social media, rewards if you choose to bring a friend, and even a leaderboard that is visible at the studios to show who has attended the most classes during the challenge parameters.

I may still have some “gaps” in my knowledge, but I am working on them. At least I am able to pronounce chameleon.

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UFSocial Staff