Gamification in Service Management GuideThe Foundations of Gamification


The key to making gamification work is a solid understanding of the tools available and why people respond to them. Challenges sometimes called missions), points, badges, trophies, leaderboards, levels and profiles are the key tools of gamification. By understanding how, where and why they work, you can map business objectives to supporting behaviors - and behaviors to the mechanisms that will be effective in encouraging them.


Game Mechanics

Game mechanics are the mechanisms, rules, tools, techniques and currencies of gamification. They are the structures you need to put in place to motivate users, trigger activity, drive engagement and change behaviors.


ChallengesChallenges are at the core of gamification. The challenge-reward relationship establishes a “do this, get that” deal between the organization and the employee, offering a specific reward in exchange for a specific action.

PointsEach action is rewarded with a pre-determined number of points. A point (or credit) is the game economy equivalent of a manager saying “Good job!” – with the added option of cashing in points for tangible rewards that appeal to the employee.

BadgesBadges are more meaningful than points as they recognize specific categories of achievement and act as status symbols. In IT, badges might be awarded for solving particular categories of incidents, or making a number of contributions to a knowledge base.

LevelsLevels are defined by specific points thresholds, giving points more meaning and status. For example, earning 5000 points will rank a user as an “Expert” and 10000 points as a “Guru”. From the user perspective, levels give them a sense of progress and achievement – they quantify their skills and contributions – and are useful metrics for annual reviews.

LeaderboardsLeaderboards add a relative edge to gamification. They quantify performance relative to others and, in doing so, introduce friendly competition. It’s a performance competition, not a fight to the death, and the objective is to find out who can be the best, not destroy the rest; so leaderboards must be carefully planned to have a positive impact.

TrophiesTrophies should be distinguished from badges: they are awarded for larger achievements, often involving a competitive element. For example, “Service desk analyst of the month”.

Game Dynamics

Game dynamics are the reasons why game mechanics work. They are the intrinsic human needs that game mechanics appeal to. Different game mechanics trigger a different set of game dynamics.


RewardRewards are a fundamental driver for human activity. People don’t commit to expending energy unless they are sure the reward will be worth the effort. By making rewards clear, gamification promotes repeat behavior helping you to embed positive habits and cultural change.

CompetitionCompetition is a deeply engrained trait. It’s part of our DNA. Research has proven that higher performance happens in competitive environments. Leaderboards are the primary game mechanism for the competition dynamic – a visible definition of the performance that people need to aspire to.

AchievementPeople are motivated to achieve set objectives and work towards larger goals. Those that are motivated by a sense of achievement actively seek out challenges. The combination of their own sense of achievement, and recognition for that achievement is a very powerful motivator.

StatusMost people enjoy the social attention they get from having achieved something worthwhile. People crave the respect of their peers and are willing to work hard to get it, because respect is an indicator of success. Game mechanisms, such as badges, trophies and leaderboards, quantify status and satisfy our inherent desire for social validation.

Self-expressionAutonomy, creativity and originality are all closely linked to the desire for self-expression: people like to do new things in their own way. It is a process of discovery and this is where people are working in a state of “flow”. The need for self-expression is critical to people, as it demonstrates their uniqueness and communicates identity.

AltruismResearch shows that Millennials take the “cause work” that companies are involved in into consideration when looking for a job. They want to know that the company has a heart - and that there is alignment in the causes that they support.





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