My way to Gamification & Why I believe in it

We all know the divergent thinking, the black and white painted world on how we see games and especially Gamification. For some it is just wasted time and effort and for others it literally means the world. There is a whole industry just around this topic and a pretty young scientific approach called Game studies, ludology or gaming theory dealing with games and their impact.

For me games were fascination and pure curiosity. As a child I was fascinated by the 8-bit graphics – the totally new world behind a view millimeter glas. Sure it was not the same as to go out and play with friends or doing sports together, however it was driving my phantasy and triggered my curiosity – which still is one of my personal core drives.

My generation grew up with digital games. And while grewing up, a new era of games came to life – the massively multiplayer online roleplay games, like World of Warcraft. It was and still is a milestone – it seemed that this game holds the holy grail to trigger people, to influence their behavior. From 2004 to 2012 the players invested more than 5,96 Billion years in playing this game – just to give you hint how much time that is – within that time the whole evolution of mankind could be “replayed”. When I red this statement it felt like I was hit by something. I couldn’t believe it I red it twice, three and four times, I was shocked how much time people spend playing games. Then out of the blue one question popped up in my mind.

The big WHY.

WHY? Why do people spend so much time playing games? Why not doing something in real life within that time?

When the book”Reality is broken” from Jane McGonigal crossed my way, it dragged me into the world of game design and gamification. As a designer I was pretty amazed of the various fields touched by games and as well how common it is to play games in our culture and the sheer endless opportunities to really gain and create an impact.


FACT I // We are living in a Digital Gaming Culture

  • Germany has the most internet users in Europe, creating significant potential for business.
  • More than 26 million Germans play video games online, on smart phones, TVs, consoles and handhelds.
  • In 2012, the German gaming market generated a total turnover of EUR 1.85 billion.
  • Online and browser games in particular recorded promising two-digit growth rates over the last five years.
  • In 2012, more than 1.7 billion apps were downloaded (+ 80% above 2011).

FACT II // Gamification is not just adding Points, Badges & Leaderboards (PBL)

As we think of Gamification, we think of adding a extrinsic point system as a layer on top on something and “Taddaaa, it’s a game!” I am sorry to say but – “NO”. Gamification is more than just PBLs. Extrinsic motivation is important, but it just will motivates us for short term. We need for a long term goal positive psychology. Positive psychology deals with happiness and how to trigger it. And digital games are very powerful in that, because they have direct & realistic feedback loops. Why it works so good? Hormones and neurobiological reward sytsem give us the answer.


FACT III // Games have the power to change

Games & game systems are deeply linked with us as human beings and our culture. Within a game the player is actively participating in the question “what if…?” and as player you explore new opportunities, new opinions, new ideas. When the game is over you go back into the “real” live, but the experience stays. With this experience of narrative learning comes understanding, with understanding there can be change in our mindset, in our behavior. That is what we call transformative power of game.



I believe in Gamification & Games, because I truly think, that they hand us the methods, insights and research to impact human behavior and change it for better. It is the key to change thinking, to enhance strengths and give the power to guide us into a thoughtful digital era.


Thanks for reading — I’m Jasmin Deniz Karatas. I’m a Strategic Designer & Gamifier.

/// If you have thoughts on the article, share it with me. Thanks! ///