Gamification in Marketing


                        Does social media alter our lives into a game and making us blind about surroundings with gamification strategy?

Thesis:  Nowadays with the consumerist idea, gamification of everyday life is really happening. How it works, why people love gamification, are there any scientific explanation behind it?


  1. 1.  What is gamification?
    1. Definition of gamification
    1. Advertising a gamificated product
  2. Science Behind Gamification
    1. Psychology
    1. How gamification motivates you
    1. Gamification in Education and Future of Gamification


Gamification is inside every part of our lives. With the rise of the technology and mass production, gamification still weaving a web inside societies. But why people need this? Or knowing it’s an advertising trap, why people eat the bait? Gamification of everyday life pushes people to buy things in a short term and following a new game. Every product that advertised as gamificated is short term product. This selling technique of gamification really works. At first, target audience were adults and youth but now even elders are target audience. But how it influences people psychology so widely?

Keywords:  Gamification, consumerism, product, social media, psychology, education

  1. What is gamification?
  2. Definition of gamification

The term gamification was coined by Nick Pelling in 2002.1 In academic definition of McClarty “ The application of lessons from the gaming domain in order to change stakeholder behaviors and outcomes in non game situations”2

Gamification basically makes a game with our daily basis, like going to a coffee shop, eating food or jogging. Very basic things so it can reach every person. Origin of this marketing system is unknown. There are lots of apps using this technique, like Snapchat, Instagram, Swarm. Many companies also gamifies their campaign, like Vodafone gives free call, internet or SMS if you log in their mobile app every Monday. In this way companies attracts audience and sell their product in a short term, it’s basically easy to design and transfer to people. As i said before, gamification is a short-term campaign, so companies think their product in how long or how extend this product will be on sale. So, this marketing campaign aiming to get as many people in the door in a short amount of time as possible. This gamification aims to capture active users, potential user and inactive users attention to engage in an action and continue the action.

For example, location-based game-like Foursquare or Swarm. Basically, these programs use smartphones gps system to matches locations that you are currently in so you can check in and show your location. With this system business owners cooperate with the program and give reward for people that are using the app and checking in on a regular basis. So, say that you gained the mayor badge which means that you’re the person that frequently visiting the place via the app. In this way you could be up for things such as free meal, coffee or tea, whatever you think. In this way both companies profit and you play some kind of game. Think in the other way, would you go there every day if there was no game around?

Another good app for example is “Run! Zombies”. Basically, this apps narrates “The Walking Dead” like zombie interactive story while you jogging, but if you want to hear more story and learn what will happen to you, then you have to run more and sometimes faster.

According to Harry Frankfurt “Gamification is easy. It offers simple, repeatable approaches in which benefit, honor, and aesthetics are less important than facility. For the consultants and the startups, that means selling the same bullshit in book, workshop, platform, or API form over and over again, at limited incremental cost. It ticks a box. Social media strategy? Check. Games strategy? Check.”3

Marketing system of gamification

Want to know how to apply Gamification In The Classroom? Check a practical gamification application in the classroom.

Due to growing impatience of technology and smartphone domination, gamification campaign spreads very fast. With those smartphones users can access tons of apps and information, this flood of information and apps causes companies improves their campaigns to keep users engaged in their programs and campaign.  At present more than half people using social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. These apps are hard to destroy so rather than creating an app to rival those apps, companies uses them. For example; you can play games in Facebook, like Farmville. A real time farming Simulator, but in order to proceed further you must send invitation to other players or spend real cash. In this way Facebook gains new users and Farmville makes profit to its owner Zynga. Or birthday celebration of Facebook makes user aware of his or her Facebook Page.

According to Gabe Zichermann “FunWare”, aka, Gamification, is about taking the lessons learned from the games industry around points and badges and levels and challenges and achievements and bake those into any kind of life experience. Games can help improve the outcomes in every aspect of life. Marketing has always been about a certain degree of persuasion and motivation, and a degree of manipulation. Games do that most effectively. Again for Gabe Zichermann “Game mechanics and the psychological conditions (FunWare) exploit are powerful tools that marketers can use, and they are a lot cheaper … than cash in the long run.”4

In this age, border between real life and game life is getting blurry. Gamification is not like a VR game like HTC Vibe.  In other words, gamification is some company or even government tries to make your daily life actions into game –like action. Gamification takes power from rivalry, achievement, competition and showing off. You gain some reputation and level up, but your friend passes you, then you use that app more frequently.  In this way of competition and feeling of winning, satisfies customers according to Gabe Zichermann.5

But gamification is not all bad, for example a well-designed customer loyalty program that gives free rewards or app like Foursquare by giving titles and badges to users that goes to lots of different places have been generally well received. But the marketing industry is full of bad gamification examples. Like when you surfing on the internet some banner advertisement pops-up like shooting some targets, but then you click it will lead you a different website. So, this destroys the loyalty of users.

Science Behind Gamification


Gamification is about controlling, influencing and understanding human behaviors and gamification does this in a fun way to influence masses. To attract more user gamification uses culture, popular culture, traditions or some experimental things. In Turkey there is an app called “Falcı Bacı” or “Falaaddin”, a classic fortune telling app, which you send photos of your coffee cup. According to rate of believing in fortune telling, this app will work efficiently in Turkey but in Norway it won’t do such great impact as in Turkey.

So basic psychology behind gamification work with motivating your brain. Motivation has two sub-titles; interior and exterior motivation.  Gamification works on exterior motivation. This kind of motivation is; when rewards or punishment comes from outside of persons will This kind of motivation works with constant observation and increase. So, sustainability of exterior motivation becomes pricey. This is why companies does this marketing technique as short amount of time.6

Basic understanding of this brain motivation we need to talk about dopamine, which is the chemical signal that gets passed from one neuron to the next. “Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them. Dopamine deficiency results in Parkinson’s Disease, and people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction. The presence of a certain kind of dopamine receptor is also associated with sensation-seeking people, more commonly known as “risk takers.” 7                                        

How gamification motivates you

5 Tips To Incorporate Gamification Into Your Corporate eLearning

   Gamification only works when it motivates you, so you start to do things. There are tons of theories how it motivates us but there are solid three elements with the help of Jory Mackay’s researchs.8

  1. Autonomy: You gain motivation when you’re in charge. When you feel like you’re in charge, you tend to stick to your goals for a longer period of time.
  2. Value: You’re more motivated when you value a subject. If you think a goal is important there’s a better chance you’ll complete it.
  3. Competence: The better you get at something, the more likely it is you’ll continue doing it. Likewise, when you know that something takes hard work as opposed to some innate talent, you’re more likely to keep trying at it.

Basically, when you achieve something, you will want to earn it more, this will also create a competition also with the rewards of gamification tactic will motivate you and you start to use it more and more.

Another technique about motivation of gamification is; hype for new stuff. Like iPhone series. You want iPhone 7 and there are so little differences but you can’t resist it because advertising system works very well.

It doesn’t important whether you are a gamer, or a shopaholic, but hype makes you try new things or play things. For example, game buying and selling platform Steam, in 2016 Summer Sale, made a small game, when you play this game there is a chance that you might get a prize, with those prizes you can earn extra discount for some certain games, but those games are usually has negative comments.

Also, reputation motives you. Again, Steam has level system which is nothing but a cosmetics. You level up some background images, some emojis and again some forgotten game discounts gifted to you. But you feel motivated and to level up you must spend some money to card. You have to collect all card collection and melting them rewards you a level up. But you gain reputation so you are motivated by those reward and reputation. This is how gamification motivates you and it works.

Another gamification experiment from Stockholm also proves this motivation theory. Their question was “Can we get more people to take the stairs over the escalator by making it fun to do?” So, they put some kind of music mechanic to stairs and painted it like the keys of a piano. When you put your feet on you push a note. So, they observed %66 of people started to using stairs rather than escalator. 9

Another experiment about how fast is gamification, comes from Stockholm again. Its name is “Speed Camera Lottery” They put a sensor to some checkpoint on the road. Instead of giving penalties to fast speed cars, they observed and send messages to drivers like “If you comply with traffic signs and speed limits you’ll get a reward and there is a competition, so other cars on the road are also in this competition”. Result came instant in a positive way and participants said this tactic is really good. This is a great example of game-thinking: Turning a negative loop into a positive one for the greater good.

So, it really motivates people. Think about an RPG game, you do mining, wood cutting, killing exactly same monster for a hundred times, you do this for leveling up more and more. People spend a lot of times for this game quests, but in real life – often defined as grunt work- no one wants to do grunt work. But in there you sacrifice your sleeps and precious time. Same principle works like gamification, you wonder what would happen if you do some certain quest or objectives like going there twice in a row or listening same music for a hundred times.

Gamification in Education and Future of Gamification

Another way to keep people involved into gamification and earn profit from it, to reach every state of the society. So it can be used in classrooms for educations. “Fun can obviously change behaviour for the better”10 .

There are good gamification educations techniques. For example; “Class Dojo” for kindergarten and primary school students, make students earn star or badges in order to complete quests like “Stay Silent”, “Do Homework”, “Finish Your Meal”. These quests can be modified by teachers thou. Also “Kahoot” is another gamified education system like “Who Wants to be Millionaire” for classrooms. These programs need memberships and it cost a lot more money than regular phone apps. That’s why it is a good vein for marketing companies.

Researches shos that reward systems in gamified education encourage students to acknowledge their accomplishments and continue to progress.11 Good gamified educational system is making them roleplay and learn with fun in an interesting way but the most important point is it keeps students engaged with technology. Humanity is entering it very early states of quantum age. Nowadays every kid has to know how to use computers, how to benefit from it. With the gamified apps they are preparing this period of the world.

For conclusion gamification is growing marketing strategy and it keeps getting stronger and stronger. And it really works, people use these apps very frequently without knowing the strategy behind it. The more they get motivated, the more they use the apps, and companies know how to control people behaviors about what they will buy or not.


  1. Gartner Says Worldwide Video Game Market to Total $93 Billion in 2013,” news release, Gartner, October 29, 2013,
  2. Ian P. McCharyt “Is it All a Game? Understanding the Principles and value of Gamification”
  3. Frankfurt, Harry. Gamification is Bullshit bullshit/243338/
  4. Zichermann, Gabe. Game Based Marketing.
  5. Gabe Zichermann Game‑Based Marketing: Inspire Customer Loyalty Through Rewards
  10. Volkswagen. (2009). The Fun Theory: “
  11. Marcus Gidio “

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