By Ahmed Shareef

Gamification is a non-game context that motivates progressive changes and helps users make it a habit and gradually levels them up. The main goal of gamification in education is to increase student motivation and engagement. It motivates students to improve their performance and change undesired behaviors.

Gamification does not necessarily require a computer or a digital tool. It doesn’t require being a video game or anything like that. It is a set of rules, like a point system. It engages students or people involved on an emotional level. Engaging them at a deep meaningful level makes them emotionally involved and inspired to achieve their best.

Like marketers focus on customer engagement, employers focus on employee engagement thus educators focus on student engagement.

Just to give an example of gamification, Apple watches or any fit-band will help you reach a certain level of engagement in exercise every day. It encourages the user with badges and rewards. It also pushes users further to achieve more as they see their achievements as they go.

Kids vs Parents

Like kids strive hard to get that sticker or sweet as a reward for their effort to complete a certain task, parents and educators are quite familiar with awarding kids stickers, sweets, or a small amount of money for their savings. These are examples of gamification and we have seen and experienced change according to this.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic

Simply, gamification is all about motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes when a student himself/herself enjoys the study personally. This is pretty rare in schools, thus it requires extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is especially important when students lack personal interest; the use of extrinsic incentives to increase participation can help promote interest in learning (Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000) (Sun & Hsieh, 2018).

Brian Burke, in his book “Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things” argues that gamification is more intrinsic than extrinsic. Because intrinsic rewards engage students at an emotional level and that is what gamification drives them to do too.

Gamification provides the urge to get progress and get better at anything that matters to the participant. People need the drive to start and stay consistent with what they do. Gamification provides step-by-step guidance on how to gradually step up and it gives positive feedback to keep going. Apparently, gamification helps you get better at something.


How gamification motivates people to get better in things they do or even in things they could have never imagined. Gamification is a great approach for guiding people to change behaviors, so they can become more effective.

In a department or section, there can be one or none who is willing to work harder. But most of them would want to work better. They can be motivated to work better. Hence, rather than getting employees to work harder, make them work better.


Simply take a game as an example. you don’t go through documents and training to master the game Angry Bird. You can just start and you develop skills as you progress. Keep trying and the challenges increase only as players develop their skills. When they reach the next level, they would have acquired enough skill to handle that level.

Gamifying an organization would bring the same great change. Set goals to take the small steps to reach the goals in miles away. Thus, gamification has been used to successfully transform business operations.

khan academy uses gamification to keep kids engaged by giving them instructions, guidance and feedback on how to solve problems. Khan academy uses a knowledge map to identify topics in their dependencies.

Khan Academy students are first introduced to the topic, shown how it works, and asks learners to solve the exact same thing or something similar. When the player attempts to solve the problem he will be prompted with immediate feedback. If the answer is incorrect, a friendly voice will ask to try again. Not only that, it will encourage the learner that he will be able to do it next time. If the answer is correct, a character will come up encouraging and will say something like “you did it”.

Khan Academy uses the classroom flipping method. The lectures and practice time would be assigned as homework. And classroom time is devoted to teachers helping the students work through the challenges.

Khan Academy also enables teachers, parents, students, or peers to become coaches, who can monitor the student’s progress and see what badges they have earned, and encourage them to become more active in learning.

DuoLingo is a successful language learning approach based on gamification.

The Approach

Gamification breaks the learning process into small achievable steps and provides constant feedback and encouragement throughout the process. Rather than listening to a theoretical explanation, learners will acquire knowledge through experience and discussion with peers and mentors.

In gamification, achievements are recognized in many ways. The most common way is recognizing achievements through badges.

The approach is to engage learners by doing. Experiential learning is contrastive with other forms of learning. Thus, learning is best done in a collaborative environment. And most of the gamification encourages learners to develop a network of peers.


The role or importance of gamification in driving innovation is that gamification leads to idea generation and these ideas can be implemented as innovations. The idea market itself has a scoring system. These ideas lead to connect inventors and investors.

Giving employees a platform to share their ideas, where the best ideas would be voted, would lead employees to work and think more from a management perspective rather than a staff. They will think of a way to contribute to evolving the organization.

The motivation factor is having their say in running the organization, as they have their idea in the implementation and evolution of the organization. After all, they are the stakeholders and they are going to get affected by the decisions.

However, it will be a good idea for the organization to have a boundary in taking ideas. for example, open for ideas in a particular area, just to have a control while the organization develop and evolve.

Of course, besides having their name on the evolvement of the organization, the organization has to put a reward for the winners. Also, the contributors should be confident that their ideas are going to be considered and implemented soon on a regular basis.

Looking for a gamification trend without focusing on the organization’s goals and achievements is not the right approach. it will be like doing something without achieving any outcome.

The targeted outcomes must be realistic and achievable and should include success matters.

For example; increasing website traffic by n percent in a number of months, to increase customers by a percent in a number of months.


Having a clear target audience is very important to minimize miss alignments. For example, an organization can target their gamification on the staff or customers. Targeting both will raise misalignments and causes to fail the target. It leads to engaging the wrong target audience or leads to disengaged people at all.


In gamified solutions, the most fun approach is a surprise reward. unexpected random rewards which make the player feel like he never knows what will happen later. Hence, Provide challenges and give constant feedback. Recognize achievements with praise and level up the player (staff/customer).

Gamified solutions can be implemented in-house. However, publishing with social media will boost it and encourage existing players as well as the public to participate in the competition.

posting it into social media with the consent of participants via their own user will be an additional motivation. This way the involvement of the players can be recognized.

Taking feedback from the participants and updating the solution periodically will encourage the user and increase their participation. As they see the organization listens to them, they feel their involvement in the development of the organization.


Video game development can take up to years and millions of dollars for the production to release and market. If the initial release is good it goes well. It is a long term high risk process as it is a long term production and finished product will be rolled out.

Unlike video game production, gamification will never be final. It will continue to evolve slowly as the participants develop. It’s initial stage or the first release will barely include just the features that need to engage the audience and meet the organization objectives.

A gamified solution needs to be evolved slowly to keep the audience engaged from the beginning.

IT should play a supporting role while the lead role should be played by Marketing.

Gamified solutions should be designed to achieve player goals rather than organization goals. Main focus should be the engagement and improvement of either employees or customers.

Players should be engaged on an emotional level rather than on a transactional level.

With this in mind, any organization would be able to achieve their goal in an easy, fun and an interactive way, inshaAllah.

Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves (Quran 13:11).


Burke, B. (2014). Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things. Bibliomotion.

Hill, G. M., & Valdez-Garcia, A. (2020). Perceptions of Physical Education Teachers Regarding the Use of Technology in Their Classrooms. The Physical Educator77(11), 14. EBSCOHost.

Joo, Y. J., Park, S., & Lim, E. (2018). Factors Influencing Preservice Teachers’ Intention to Use Technology: TPACK, Teacher Self-efficacy, and Technology Acceptance Model. Educational Technology & Society21(3), 59. EBSCOHost.

Lamar THOMAS, A. (2017). Digital Game-Based Textbook vs. Traditional Print-Based Textbook: The Effect of Textbook Format on College Students’ Engagement with Textbook Content outside of the Classroom. TOJET16(4), 7. EBSCOHost.

Sun, J. C.-Y., & Hsieh, P.-H. (2018). Application of a Gamified Interactive Response System to Enhance the Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation, Student Engagement, and Attention of English Learners. International Forum of Educational Technology & Society21(3), 104–116.

Van Eck, R. (2006). Digital Game-Based Learning: It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless…. EDUCAUSE41(2), 16. ResearchGate.’s_Not_Just_the_Digital_Natives_Who_Are_Restless

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