My name is Kai Ashford-Hatherly and I am a Game Designer, Game Design Lecturer at SAE, User Experience Specialist & Gamification developer.

I am often asked what is gamification and why do it? It’s funny because the answer for most people is “add points to everything” for example Flybuys or the Woolworths Rewards. While the point system is an integral facet of gamification in history, the process more relates to incetivating particular tasks with a reward.

We are all too familiar with the recent controversy around Facebook and other Social Media platforms and their manipulation of game methodologies such as Likes, shares and comments, which hijack natural reward systems to make their product more addictive. This is facilitated through the chemical dopamine found in the human brain.

What is Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released in your brain when something “good” happens. It is this biological reward system that incentives us to accomplish tasks in our daily lives.

Dopamine hacking through games

Games allow us to instantly create a situation which taps into and artificially triggers a dopamine dump in the human mind.

According to ” Your Brain on Tech: Debunking the 6 Biggest Lies About ‘Technology Addiction’ by The Conversation (May 26, 2018) video games increase your dopamine levels by 170% whereas sex, an activity known to spike dopamine, increases levels by 200%.

Through incorporating certain game methodologies into a business system, we can hack the dopamine response to transform a boring/mundane/trivial task into something fun, exciting or even orgamisc.

Example of Gamification:

Mcdonald’s Monopoly games are a fantastic example of a business gamifying sales over a certain period each year to increase sales revenue.

By adding a surprise element to each purchase and a collection of game elements in order to win much larger rewards, customers are incentivised to spend more at the restaurant and will receive multiple dopamine hits. These occur upon opening a potential chance to win a prize or at the least unlock a new portion of an even greater prize, followed by eating their food thus reinforcing an overall positive brain response to the activity of visiting a Maccas at that oh so special time of the year

It is important to note dopamine is released whether or not a free reward is won as the simple act of participating by pulling back a sticker keeps people coming back.

To be successful in developing gamification you need a combination of three important skill sets: Game Design, Marketing and User Experience.

This will allow you to have a deep understanding of dopamine and how to thread dopamine rewards throughout your business, website, apps and social media.

Written by:

Kai Ashford-Hatherly
Gamification specialist at Summit Web
Email for more information on our Gamification workshops or Gamification as a process:
kai@summitweb.com.au

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