Games vs gamification

Lately, I’ve had the need to clarify, in my own mind, the difference between ‘game’ and ‘gamification’ (or ‘gamified learning’). So here’s what I came up with (maybe with a little help).

  • Games are standalone activities designed for entertainment, enjoyment and fun. The learner will play the game according to a set of defined rules, interactions and outcomes.
  • Gamification refers to the application of game elements and game design techniques in a non-game context. The purpose is to increase learner engagement, motivation, productivity, learning or problem-solving skills.
  • Games are their own contained experience focused on enjoyment. Gamification incorporates game mechanics into an existing process to enhance the experience and drive specific outcomes.
  • Games entertain, while gamification engages, educates, motivates or changes behaviours. Games are an end in themselves, while gamification is a means to an end.
  • Game design focuses on crafting an immersive, fun and compelling experience. Gamification design focuses on motivating and driving behaviours in users through rewards, status, achievement, performance and competition.
  • Games encourage freeform exploration and discovery within a virtual world. Gamification provides structured incentives and guidance for real-world goals.

In summary, games are for fun and entertainment, while gamification applies game techniques and elements to non-game applications to influence user behaviour and achieve desired results. Games are standalone experiences, gamification enhances existing experiences.

Photo by Nik on Unsplash