The importance of gamification in education and social living

Every so often, a revolutionary innovation comes about and changes the way in which our society interacts. In this category can be clubbed together the greatest inventions the world has seen—from the printing press to social networking. Yet another idea that holds the potential to bring about a grand change in the way we live and grow is gamification.

Understanding Gamification 

Gamification can be briefly defined as the application of game-design elements in non-gaming contexts. The purpose of gamification is to engage the user more with whatever he is doing and thus increase interest and make the task or the learning process more enjoyable. It is based on a principle which supposes that the outcome is always better when the doer finds pleasure in performing an act. This concept can be applied to education as well as other social interactions to enhance learning and other tasks.

Gamification in Education

Gamification in education can be understood as an approach to carry forth the learning process by the means of video game designs and the use of game elements in educational endeavors. As already explained, the motivation behind this approach is to generate more enjoyment and engagement by capturing the interest of the learners.

Why Gamify Education? 

It has been found by researchers and teachers all around the world that the more a student engages, the better he learns. Studies on gamification reveal that the uses of gamification increase the engagement of the students with what they are learning.

  • Gamification encourages healthy competition between students.
  • It discourages rote and thus makes students more creative.
  • It reduces learning stress.
  • It makes feedback more constructive and positive.
  • According to some studies, gamification inevitably increases the speed of the learning process.

These are only a few of the many reasons why gamification should be incorporated in the learning process.

Ways to Gamify

Now that the benefits of gamification are clear, let us take a look at some ways in which gamification can be implemented in the learning process.

  • A professor at Indiana University did away with the grading system and introduced an ‘experience point‘ system. In other words, the students were given points based on what they accomplished overall rather than the marks they earned in the examination. Gamification of examinations and an innovative system to replace the conventional grading system can not only make the learning process stress free for students but can also give them a greater sense of achievement and satisfaction once it is over.
  • Instead of conventional lectures and classroom sessions, the use of interactive videos and video games as alternative sources of learning can greatly enhance the performance of students.
  • A platform like Top Hat allows the introduction of tournaments in the process of learning and makes it fairly and positively competitive which can also encourage the students to work hard and achieve better results.

These are only some ways in which gamification could be added to our educational setups. Many more innovative additions could further explore the full potential of gamification in education.

Gamification in Social Living

Other than education, gamification has a lot of use cases in social living as well. This can be explored in a better way by looking at the examples of how gamification has been incorporated into social living.

Fitness: Exercising is important, but it is really hard to stay motivated. Most of the people do begin a workout schedule but give up on it a few days later. Gamification is changing that by keeping people motivated to exercise. A wonderful example is that of Fitbit which gives users rewards and incentives to motivate them to be physically active.

Marketing: Gamification has also been widely used by companies and corporations to retain customers by offering incentives and rewards. This was done most notably by Starbucks who offered the customers badges for checking in several times.

Donation Drives: Gamification is also being used to motivate people to participate in donation drives. Games for donation platforms like FoldIt and CrowdRise are encouraging players and raising money for many charity purposes around the globe.

Parting Words

Gamification has been criticized for many reasons and yet its potential to transform learning and social living cannot be negated. Furthermore, it still has a lot of potential for development which can only be realized if more innovative ideas are invested in it. It is clear from the interest and growth in its adoption that it is certainly going to be the future of learning and a number of other day to day social interactions.

Gamification of Health Apps: Where Staying Fit is (Really) Fun

In this article, we discuss why a food journal is vital for sufferers and how or to-be-launched Allergy Finder App is a great tool that is made even more intuitive and fun to use with its strong gamification aspect.  

What is Gamification

A very simple definition of gamification would say that it is the application of game design and style in non-gaming contexts. This approach is used to solve problems by engaging the players or participants in otherwise everyday tasks and making these activities more fun and interesting.

Nowadays, gamification is being used in many industries, including healthcare, transforming mundane user experiences into the excitement of playing a game. Mostly, it is used in fitness applications, medical adherence and medical education.

Here we explore the gamification of health applications, which has, undeniably, made staying fit fun.

Gamification in Health Applications

Gamification not only increases our focus but also enables us to attain goals which otherwise would have been too difficult for us to reach. This aspect of gamification has successfully been exploited by the health industry. As early as 2016, Fitbit announced that it was teaming up with other corporations to track employees and use the data to track their health habits. Thus, in the beginning, Fitbit was used by various companies as a fitness tracker for their employees, motivating them to take better care of their well-being in the corporate rat-race. Slowly, gamification was incorporated in many other fitness apps, at which we shall take a brief look.

Examples of Gamification in Health Applications

Pact: Perhaps this is the most fun of all fitness applications out there. Pact tracks fitness on mobile phone devices and those users who do not meet their fitness goals have to contribute money—which goes to those users who have met their goals! It is only natural that nobody likes to pay anyone on their expense.

Mango Health: On a completely different level, Mango Health is an application which motivates patients to take their medications on time. The users set a time on which they need to take medications and the app reminds them like an alarm. Having taken their medications properly, they earn points and get gift cards and more. The application also educates patients about drugs and their side effects.

EveryMove: EveryMove uses competitiveness to motivate users to stay fit. It collects data from mobile devices and allows friends to compare one another’s progress.

mySugr: mySugr is an Australian startup which provides a fun solution for diabetes management. It has a separate app for helping children with diabetes management which is called mySugr Junior App. mySugr has been very successful with all age groups and it has more than one million registered users and is available in 52 countries in at least 13 languages. Most recently, it was acquired by the pharmaceutical giant Roche.

How Gamification can Help people Fight Food Allergies

Gamification has been steadily on rise in various industries including education, marketing and social living. It has been of a particular success in the health industry. Where it is hard for people to keep up their spirits while trying to be fit, gamification not only helps them achieve this goal but also brings much fun in the process. 

32 million Americans have food allergies. That means one in every 10 adults and one in every 13 children. Researchers have found an increasing prevalence in food allergies in the industrialized world for the past 50 years. The burden of this problem is the fact that there has been a steady rise in the number of ER visits for food allergy-related emergencies. 

While there is no cure for food allergies, the best way to stay away from it is through prevention and avoiding food that you are allergic to. But how do you identify which food you are allergic to? 

Food journaling or a food diary is a great way to identify the ‘culprit’. Maintaining a food journal can be an extremely helpful way to avoid “rogue” foods and to keep track of adverse reactions when they happened so as to avoid them the next time. 

In the food journal, keep making entries every time you eat or drink something. Record if you show any allergic symptoms like itching, coughing, swelling, redness, diarrhea, stomach ache, wheezing, etc. Record the time when the symptoms start. This information is vital for you and your doctor to strategize your dietary schedule and avoid certain foods.

Maintaining a physical journal can be cumbersome for most sufferers. A manual food diary also does not make analysis easy. Everything, from recording meals to analyzing potential allergens and problem foods has to be done manually. This can become quite a task. Maybe things would become a whole lot easier if there was an easy to use app for it? Would not a digital food journal help?

In the last newsletter, we had mentioned about the development of the Allergy Finder App. This app is more than a food journal though. It is a community empowerment tool, where collective data will help sufferers take control of their health. We are in the process of giving the final touches to the app and we expect to launch it soon.

The app is free to download and comes with a 7-day free trial. After that users will need to subscribe to continue using its services at a flat rate of $34.99 per year. 

A lot of thought has gone into the making of this app with subject matter experts, tech experts and food allergy sufferers chipping in with their insights. We believe that this app will be a great tool for the millions of food allergy sufferers to take control of their condition and live a healthy life with informed dietary choices.   

The 6D Approach to Gamification

Gamification has been gaining steady ground in the businesses of today. What businesses are looking to do is to gamify the work processes performed by the employees so as to make their work more fulfilling and satisfying. The employees should feel a sense of achievement every time they finish their job and in the process, improve the productivity of the organization. Gamifying the business activities requires the following aspects of a process to enable gamification of the job or any work related activity. One such process is known as the 6D approach to gamification. Here are the six D’s that comprise the gamification process:

  1. Define business objective

This is a very important step in the process of gamification. Unless the business objective is defined, the business cannot survive for a long time. Any business must be absolutely clear about the goals and objectives that it wants to achieve through the gamification process. Some businesses aim for revenue maximization and profitability, some businesses want better exposure and increased social media visibility. By defining the objectives, it becomes easier to map the next stages of the process.

2. Delineate target behaviors

The next step involves precisely describing the type of behavior that is expected of the players. There are certain characteristic behaviors that would be the most beneficial for the business and the objective that is supposed to be attained. These behaviors may include updating your profile, sharing on social media, posting comments, inviting other people to join, and so on. Once these behaviors have been identified, the most important ones should be given more weightage and their completion should be marked by levelling up in the game or the activity.

3. Describe your players

It is also necessary to have in mind the type of players that are going to play the game. Is the activity for the younger or the middle-aged people? What motivates the people who will play the game? What drives these people? Are they going to be able to perform according to the expectations of the game? Are they used to the competitiveness or do they care about exploring and socializing? Various such questions pertaining to the players need to be answered and a general player profile needs to be developed.

4. Devise activity loops

The players of the game should be given motivation to continue playing. For this reason, activity loops should be devised so that the players can progress through the game as they perform activities of different kinds. The loops ensure that the players are engaged in playing the game and are also progressing in the game as they play longer. The sense of accomplishment that is brought along with a progression loop can act as a motivation for playing the game.

5. Don’t forget the fun

During the implementation of the process, it is quite possible that all the elements that make games fun might get pushed behind. It is imperative that the element of fun does not get lost or diluted. Finally, the core element of playing any game is for fun. The most important question that can be asked here is whether the players will voluntarily play the game. If the answer is not positive, then the entire process becomes futile. The players should have fun in performing the activities of the game rather than seeing it as an additional burden on themselves. The more fun that the players have, the better success the game is bound to enjoy.

6. Deploy the appropriate tools

What will your gamification system look like? How will the ability of the players be measured? What sort of a point system will be deployed? All such questions concerning the look and the elements of the game need to be answered. The experience that the players shall have in the playing of the game should also be considered. Tools like the PBL systems, achievements, avatars, etc., can be deployed which should be in tandem with the steps previously discussed.

This is not the only approach for a gamification process but it is surely one of the popular ones. Companies are using the 6D approach for improving employee efficiency and achieving business objectives.

This approach is also being used by Exp.life in an effort to gamify our lives. Exp.life aims to change the way we live our lives and share our experiences. Exp.life has made use of the 6D gamification approach to make it possible. A detailed overview of how it has been done can be found in the whitepaper. The gamification approach can be very well applied to our lives and that is exactly what Exp.life wants to do.

The Philosophy Behind Great Games — The Octalysis Framework

Very few gamers ever consider the blood and sweat that goes behind making a great game. There are tens of people who are employed for the development and coding of a game to ensure that the players get the best experience and, of course, their money’s worth. Millions of dollars are spent on the research and development of any game. These dollars are spent to make sure that the players love the characters, enjoy the story, are motivated to complete the game and earn rewards and achievements in the process, and be simply amazed at the quality of production and creativity of the developers.

Good games have certain basic characteristics which attract the majority of the gamers to play them. Certain gamers want a great story. The intrigue or the depth of the story keeps them riveted to the game. Certain gamers want more control of their characters or the storyline. Certain gamers want amazing graphics and better body dynamics. The preferences are most certainly subjective. But it is important for the developers to consider what the gamers would like the most considering the type of game they are developing and the market that they are targeting. It would be a waste to create deep storylines for simple puzzle games meant for kids.

It is necessary, therefore, to understand what drives gamers to play games. These various drives have been classified by someone, and this classification has allowed for the designing of a gamification process. It is called the Octalysis Framework and was created by Yu-Kai Chow.

The Octalysis Framework is based on human behavior and it is a set of eight ‘cores’ helpful for designing a gamification process. Let’s take a quick look at these cores and see how they are useful when designing a gamification process.

  1. Epic meaning and calling

This is an important core. A player believes that there is a greater meaning to what he is doing or that he has been chosen for doing something important. A player is motivated by this core to dedicate himself to creating a better community or maintaining forums by contributing their insights and suggestions for the fellow players. A player may also feel the calling when they encounter beginner’s luck, which makes them think that they have better skills than other players and that what they are doing has a greater meaning attached to it.

2. Development and accomplishment

This drive is internal. A player plays the game in the hopes of developing better skills for the game so that he can progress better and overcome the challenges presented by the game with relative ease. The feeling of accomplishment is what compels the players to keep developing their skills. Also, the accomplishment is complementary to the challenges because without challenges, the desired feeling of achievement cannot be evoked. It is also pretty easy to design and where the stats of the players are most focused on.

3. Empowerment of creativity and feedback

A lot of players are creative in their way of solving the puzzles posed by the games. They also respond well to the feedback provided to them when they are unable to move ahead in the game. And in applying their creativity, the players also wish to see the results of the same. This is where the empowerment of creativity and feedback core comes in. The better the result of more creative problem solving, the better is the player engagement to the game. A game should ensure that the players are empowered for being creative and provide the right type of feedback to enable them to progress in the game.

4. Ownership and possession

Everyone likes to own certain things, be it in the real world or in games. The feeling of possessing something which is either rare or expensive makes for a great motivator. Players are always looking for more things to own or collect, be it points, or items, or in-game currency. Players also feel possessive when they spend a lot of time in customizing, be it their characters or their items. No player is content with what they have when they can have more of it.

5. Social influence and relatedness

This drive arises from the fact that humans are social animals. We live in a complex society and have various social interactions with multiple people. These people have an influence on us and we relate to other people based on shared experiences, likes and dislikes, etc. We have friends with whom we relate to and who are in our social circles. This drive motivates people to be like the other people that they interact with. If someone is highly influential, they can motivate others to buy the same things as them.

6. Scarcity and impatience

This drive motivates people to have something that they do not have. And because they do not have it, the desire for it becomes more intense. Also, when one knows that they can’t have something right now, it makes them impatient and keeps them occupied and thinking about the same thing all day long. And as soon as it becomes available, people lap it up more willingly than ever. Apple sees hundreds of customers line up outside their stores on the day of launch of their phones because they are impatient and want the phones as soon as possible.

7. Unpredictability and curiosity

Humans possess an inherent curiosity about things and our inquisitiveness has led to amazing breakthroughs. This drive is harmless, for the most part. Players are curious about what will happen next in the game and the unpredictability of the outcomes makes them interested and hooked to the game. This drive makes players think about the game more often. This drive also compels people to read books or watch movies.

8. Loss and avoidance

No one likes to incur losses, be it financial or any other sort. And the avoidance of any sort of losses takes priority. Players hate to lose any progress that they have made in the game and in a bid to avoid the same, they might continue to play the game.

This is how a gamification process can be designed, applying the Octalysis framework to understand what will drive players to play the game. And by using these aforementioned drives, Exp.life aims to gamify the way we live our lives and make sharing of experiences a much more satisfying and rewarding activity.

This is how a gamification process can be designed, applying the Octalysis framework to understand what will drive players to play the game. And by using these aforementioned drives, Exp.life aims to gamify the way we live our lives and make sharing of experiences a much more satisfying and rewarding activity.

You have leveled up! How Gamification Can Change The Way You Share Your Life Experiences.

The immense popularity of games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush hasn’t gone unnoticed by anyone, unless they were living under a rock. Players love to spend hours playing these games with the chance of leveling up, scoring the most points and beating their friends at it. These games have become even more popular with people belonging to the older demographics, who have begun buying smartphones so that they can play such games and spend some of their free time in feeling the thrill and rush of achievement and progress that they felt in their heydays. The gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar industry today for a reason, with new concepts being explored every day and new players joining in on the fun.

Games are being developed at an astonishing rate today and investors are ready to invest millions into the development of the games because they are confident that the excitement of playing new games will attract many more players. The number of people a game can reach, whether the game is on a smartphone or a computer or a console such as a Playstation, is tremendous. Games become exponentially popular due to the ever increasing reach and influence of the social media. It is obvious that games are now more demanded than they ever were.

Games are not only the domain of the youngsters or kids. Even children as young as two years old are playing games on their parents’ smartphones. Older people have fun sharing their scores and the items that they received as rewards on social media. Games have become one of the critical ways to influence people and spread a message in the most immersive and interactive way.

The current generation has been the most avid consumer of technology and all its benefits. We have adapted extremely well to all the technological changes and we have been extremely receptive of every breakthrough. We are always innovating and creating new and better ways of doing everything, right from washing laundry to making reusable rockets. We have also made use of technology for creating a network of people on virtual platforms so that we can share our thoughts, opinions, pictures, emotions, and whatnot.

We are always looking to better our experience even from the technological perspective and this has propelled humanity to unprecedented advancements. We all use popular social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp in an attempt to connect with the world and broadcast our lives to anyone willing to see it. We share our personal experiences and private pictures in the hope that people ‘like’ it and comment what they think about the same. Many people enjoy this social validation of sorts, even though there is usually nothing material to gain from it.

But consider this. How about making a game out of the life that you are currently living? Imagine being awarded points for doing the voluntary work that you do every year and those points reflecting on your profile thereby strengthening your reputation. Imagine being awarded points for sharing your experiences, for completing certain challenges given to you by other ‘players,’ for being an active person on a certain forum or a community. Incentivizing an already lucrative avenue will ensure survival and long lasting impact of the medium. And that can be achieved through gamification.

Gamification basically implies applying game-like constructs to traditionally non-game situations. If we gamify the variety of activities that all of us undertake by giving points or scores and making sure that people actually undertake the activities, it is going to make sharing of all that we typically do on the social media even more rewarding and satisfying.

Gamification will lead to better community participation in hopes of besting other players in terms of levels attained. Gamification will ensure that people share their most genuine experiences and for doing so, they be awarded points. It will be a great incentive for people to be able to engage in social events so as to improve their points tally and eventually level up in comparison to their peers. Games have always been a great way to inspire healthy competition among the players. Completing quests, missions, tasks, challenges has always motivated players to continue playing the games by providing them with the innate sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. The completion of these tasks and missions makes them wanting for more. The prospect of a more challenging situation and/or the uncertainty of the rewards keeps the players intrigued.

The idea of life being a game is not new to us. But if all the statistics could be represented in the same way as in a game which could be viewed by other players and be used as a verifiable overview of the person, it would be both very useful and convenient. Every experience in the form of a photograph or a video or a blog post will result into gaining of points. The more points one has, the better their chances of being an expert in their particular field. The players will be able to both play the game and do what they regularly do with greater motivation and energy. And to facilitate this much more enriching way of recording and sharing of our experiences by gamifying the entire process, Exp.life comes into the picture.

Exp.life looks to make the experiences of the people verifiable and more value adding than they already are. It aims to gamify the lives of the players and enable them to record and upload their experiences in a way that makes it both genuine and authentic, which can be relied on by other people. The experiences that they wish to upload could have a permanent record, thanks to the application of the blockchain technology. Incentivizing is an important aspect in ensuring that there is increasing and continued participation of the involved parties.

Exp.life will actually transform the ‘game of life’ as we know it into a game-like structure which can be recorded and documented and will permit authentic sharing of experiences, while also rewarding the players for the same. It is bound to make people think twice before they upload anything on the internet and undertake challenges only if they actually are capable of completing them. Exp.life will certainly make this game a little more rewarding and worth playing.