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min read

What is gamification and how do you properly apply it?

Published on
October 26, 2023

Roos Eversdijk

Creative Project Manager

Table of contents
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Gamification is adding game mechanics into nongame environments like websites, e-learning modules, customer loyalty programs, etc. Gamification increases user engagement by making some tasks seem like a game. As a result, people recall more information, which improves their motivation, participation, and overall experience. 

These benefits make the possible applications of gamification very broad; think of industries like employer branding, product branding, university branding or any other application really that would benefit from a higher engagement with users.

Goals, rewards and competition: how to deploy gamification correctly so that it actually gets results

Gamification is based on three fairly simple concepts: goals, rewards, and competition.


Creating clear goals allows us to set clear milestones for users. It gives them a clear guideline of what they need to accomplish to receive a reward.


Positive reinforcement is a powerful factor in human psychology. When we are rewarded, we feel happy and experience less stress due to increased activity in the brain's dopamine circuit. Several studies (Fiorillo, Tobler, & Schultz, 2003; Schultz, Apicella, & Ljungberg, 1993; Waelti, Dickinson, & Schultz, 2001) show that dopamine plays an important role in learning to predict rewards. With this, it stimulates certain behaviours in which you do something to obtain these rewards.


In a well-designed gamification experience, competitive interest drives us to perform better. It has a powerful quality of engaging a person without wanting to hinder their opponents.

What are elements of gamification?

There are many, many known gamification mechanics. And the list gets longer with people’s creativity. Here are some of the most effective and easiest to implement gamification mechanics.

Progress bars

Progress bars are visual representations of how much progress you have made toward accomplishing a specific goal. For example, it can show you how many tasks are still left to complete.

The average attention span of a Gen Z’er is about 8 seconds, which is frighteningly short. Adding a progress bar can give users the confidence to complete a task because they know the end is near.

Subtle progress bar at the top of the screen.
Points system

A points system is rewarding users with points for completing tasks. This is a very effective way to provide users with feedback on how they are doing. Collecting points triggers a psychological need in users to see how many they can acquire. Which in turn increases engagement and an intrinsic motivation to complete the tasks at hand.

Points and positive feedback

A leaderboard is collective representation of users’ points. It allows users to compare their scores and achievement to others. The sense of competition this provides motivates users to put in their best effort. It can also make users more inclined to come back and give it another go. Leaderboards can also be used to create a sense of community and belonging.


Sometimes, even the most skilled people need to be pointed in the right direction. Hints can make sure users don’t get stuck and lose interest in completing the task.

Multiple hints
Branching choices

Branching allows you to add a dash of personalisation to any story. Design elaborate interactions where a series of choices can lead the user to different paths or simply allow them to choose which, if any, information they get to see.

Branching for employer branding

Customization in gamification is giving users the ability to make changes to their experience. A low key way to achieve this is by introducing name tokens. Asking the user for their name - or nickname - which reappears throughout the experience can give them a greater sense uniqueness and being valued.

Name token for Dutch brand 'Campina'

Establishing levels of accomplishment contributes to a participant's understanding of their place in a progression. This is particularly useful when you are trying to communicate a lot of information, for instance in e-learning. 

The effect of levels is comparable to that of a progress bar: it keeps users motivated to move on to the next chunk of information.

Multi-level story

People like to be given a voice and know that their opinions are valued. This is what voting does. Polls are a very good example of how to implement this. Aks users for their input or opinion and provide feedback on what might happen with it.

Voting with emoji slider

Try your hand at implementing gamification in interactive storytelling

Gamification can be a fantastic addition to various non-game environments to motivate users to complete certain tasks. If employed properly, it may even cater to users' innate wants and incite behavioural change.

Interactive makes it very easy to effectively implement element of gamification. Our interactive storytelling tool is specifically designed to be the perfect combination of interaction and gamification to help people remember information better and create positive associations with your brand. And the beauty of it all: you can do it yourself.

Are you curious what an interactive story created with Intractive looks like? Visit our Showcase page.

Ready to change the way you tell stories?

Become and interactive storyteller and immerse your entire audience in your world, today.

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"If you want to stand out you can't afford to create boring content. "