Gaming or gamification: a tool for the arts

According to surveys done by Comscore, gaming online, on smart phones, and among women has been growing for years.  Likewise the number and quality of board games has exploded in the last twelve or so years.  The upshot of these phenomena is a clear indication that gaming and gaming culture is on the rise globally and all indications are that slow and steady growth will continue to happen in this sector. But how do the arts harness this phenomena?  Game dynamics can be used to attract attention, deepen interaction, and retain interest.  Games of course have always held interest in technology and examination of game mechanics regularly shows up on Tech literature.  Beyond the tech world gamification has also become a subject of interest in the corporate world in general.  Gaming and gamification holds promise for the arts.  Applications include game dynamics on websites to bringing game mechanics to your marketing or development efforts.


Roughly speaking game mechanics fall into a number of broader categories and smaller subcategories of stimuli and response mechanisms:

  • Achievement:  points, levels, rewards, recognition, and gifts.
  • Competition:  leader boards, envy, varying challenge from human interaction, and the human competitive instinct.
  • Cooperation:  altruism, social fabric, communal discover, commerce, and teamwork.
  • Ownership:  building something that is yours, loyalty, self-expression, and loss avoidance.

Before embarking on gaming or gamification it is wise to consider your brand, your audience, and your goals.   In order to motivate specific behaviors the right combination of mechanics and dynamics need to be in place and these can vary from audience to audience.  Indeed, high powered consultants at high powered firms can be hired to help with gamification but this isn't always necessary.  A simple, well planned addition of gamification can increase time spent on a website by two or three fold.  For instance, if a customer answers three questions correctly about your organization's history they get a 5% discount on their current purchase.  Will everyone participate?  Probably not, but it will deepen the experience for a number of people and potentially deepen their understanding and commitment to your organization.