How Foursquare posts badges on Facebook

The game industry has to pursue very abstract goals: a game should be "funny" (with special exceptions) and, ideally, motivate players to come back and play again. Most games can of course more than meet these goals. But wouldn't it help if you could incorporate these insights into your non-gaming app? That is exactly the goal of gamification!



Gamification is a method to increase motivation in the non-gaming area. You take certain elements of games and incorporate them into other environments in order to make work easier, to increase motivation and to change certain behavioral patterns. Regardless of whether it is digital or analog, there are a wide variety of motivational mechanisms in games. The principle of gamification is to use these mechanisms to improve the interaction between user and app, which almost always leads to improved customer loyalty.


Examples of successful gamification

Many companies (including some large and famous ones) have discovered gamification for themselves and have been using it for a long time with great success. A well-known example of the use or adaptation of gamification is eBay. EBay was one of the first users to introduce a level-based success system for this purpose. If you (as a user) achieve an “eBay Feedback Score” of 10, you will be awarded a “Yellow Star” on your profile. At 50 you get a “Blue Star Award” etc. This brings a huge motivational factor for users who want to show more interaction with the website and to reach a higher and higher level.

Example of an eBay user score

Another big company that uses gamification is Amazon, although it might not look like it at first glance. Often described as "implicit gamification", many use techniques that do not appear to be gamification at all, but pursue the same goals. The notice "Customers who bought this item also bought" or the "Share" option for social media that appears after a purchase is part of the "Social Influence and Relatedness" basic principles of gamification.


Take Amazon as an example

A much more obvious gamification element at Amazon are the "Review Scores": The community rates the reviews under each article. The ranking is based on the "X out of Y people found this information helpful" rating. Amazon even went a step further and “gamified” the writing of product reviews by introducing a “Top Reviewer” ranking. Amazon distributes awards to users who write many helpful reviews, such as "Top 1000 Reviewer"

Amazon's "Top Reviewer" ranking (Screenshot


Example StackOverflow

StackOverflow, which is known for its Q&A page or function, uses a lot of gamification elements. All questions and answers or explanations that you post can be rated positively or negatively. Which gives reputation to the user who published it. The higher the reputation point value, the more access and rights the user gets. This leads to moderation rights in certain areas on StackOverflow. Of course, there is more incentive to achieve higher points, e.g. through certain awards or reaching certain areas such as "This user is in the top 0.84% ​​this year". This all results in more motivation to post helpful and easy-to-understand answers. There is also an interesting blog in which one of the StackOverflow designers explains gamification and tells us which elements influence the design.

Other examples of gamification can be found at LinkedIn, FourSquare, Duolingo, SAP Community Network, MySugr, Zombies-Run! and many more.


Elements of gamification

Although gamification usually has to be adapted to the specific case, there are certain elements that are used quite often and are therefore explained below:

  • Visible rank: The current status of the progress is always visible to the user. Usually this is represented by points, badges, levels or with EP (experience points), personal highscore or progress bar.

  • Ranking lists: A public ranking list not only increases competition between users, it also offers the possibility of comparing an individual with a group.

  • Feedback: Every system that gives the user visual feedback provides information about whether certain actions have an impact on the achievement of the next goal.

  • Quests: Specific tasks that you should complete within a time limit or with the help of a group.

  • Cooperation: For example, quests where users have to work together increase community cohesion, team spirit and motivation

  • … and many more!



The blog should make it easier to understand gamification and convey how you can use it to enrich your company or product. With gamification elements, users can be retained more easily and it increases loyalty and motivation. It is important to design your system in such a way that the user actually receives benefits and not just treated him with pointless rewards.


You can find out more about gamification in Christina's blog post.