Gamification is the application of gaming principles to non-game contexts. When a company applies a points system in order to reward client’s activity, such as purchasing or referrals, that’s gamification. Gamification draws a client, now called a player, into an experience, an experience with your company. Leveraging such gaming principles as instant gratification, scarcity, and social competition encourages a player to invest in the experience. Mechanisms such as points, badges, and quests keep the player engaged. Gamification can enhance your clients experience or direct your client towards an end goal, such as enrollment at a university, encouraging them to continue with the process until completion or until they make a commitment.

McDonalds, Nike+ and even Lifetime Fitness have used gamification to their advantage.Various McDonalds locations throughout the course of a few months per year will offer their customers the experience of playing Monopoly. Every drink, fry, or meal they purchase, comes with a tile of property. This encourages customers to return, sooner than they would have without the game, in order to collect all three. The more they collect, the more committed they are to the game and the more times they return to McDonalds. It’s a gaming experience for the customer and it’s free! Players play for a chance to win prizes and there are no strings attached. No registration, no commitment. This appeals to the modern consumer. So they keep coming back.

Nike + has their own spin on gamification. With Nike plus you can make a profile, add friends, and keep track of your work outs. Nike has made working out a social experience. The social factor drives people to compete harder to show off their progress. Nike plus keeps track of how fast you run, it even follows your routes. This knowledge encourages a runner to strive for their personal best, to keep improving, to keep at it. The social pressure and competing with oneself all motivates the players to keep running and to keep using Nike products while they do it.

Lifetime Fitness has a member hierarchy they employ to tap into the idea of status to drive memberships. Each gym is ranked from Bronze, Gold, Platinum, Onyx, and Diamond. The higher the lifetime location is on the scale, the more expensive the membership. When people travel, they can visit their level and any below. Diamond members have access to any lifetime anywhere. This ranking system encourages members to seek out better locations and pay more for the privilege to call themselves diamond members and the status that comes along with it.

How gamification could be used in higher education?

Gamification has been tapped into by the fitness industry by it has a huge amount of latent potential for higher education. Incorporating gaming principles while applying to a school offers prospective students a fun and unique experience. It differentiates one school from another, offers the student something new. Gamification has the ability to break up an oftentimes lengthy application process into manageable chunks. Students have the opportunity to share with their friends the progress they are making in their own journey towards collegial success. Will the time they put in and the points they earned applying for that school that gave them a fresh impression pay off? A student invests emotional time and energy through gaming principles that keep them attached to the outcome, whether they are accepted to your school. This brings them several steps closer to stepping on your campus as a full-time student.