Gamification and elements of play

In 2011, Gamification moved from the technology trigger phase on the Gartner hype curve, close to the peak of inflated expectations. This success is based on the use of game mechanics such as points, badges and leader boards. However, this success may not continue as people can get tired of counting their points and following their loyalty programs. Designers are challenged to gamify processes in creative ways that are also meaningful for people and their work and most of all, engage and keep them engaged. An element of play or playful interactions that are freely available that people can interact with, and are sources of joy and amusement could complement gamification. An interesting set of slides are available from http://www.slideshare.net/dings/meaningful-play-getting-gamification-right.

An example, which uses dynamic media in a public space, is the transformation of a stairway in a subway station in Stockholm, Sweden, to a giant piano keyboard. The creators “shared the excitement and curiosity by observing people’s feedback. Initially, pedestrians chose an escalator and watched black and white keys from the side ramp. When a person finally used the stairway, others immediately noticed the sound. Later that day people were playing, jumping, walking forward, then backward, and afterwards returning with their children” (Stangel 2012). This as well as several other playful experiences were created by a group known as The Fun Theory who believe that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better http://www.thefuntheory.com/.

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