Gamification may be buzzing, but it hasn’t quite made the mainstream yet. In conversations outside the industry, it is still common to receive puzzled looks and even a few scoffs when “games” are mentioned in the same breath as business. Despite these holdouts, the future looks bright. “The Future of Gaming” is a recent report by trend research agency, PSFK that does an excellent job at both giving an overview of the industry as it stands today and providing a small glimpse in to what the future may bring.
The scope of the report is beyond just games as the title suggests. Through examining a series of new innovations in gamification, the report shares insights into how games are moving beyond the realms of pure entertainment, employing play to achieve goals in business, education, environment, and social good. Following is a brief review, but I also recommend you read the full report.
“The Future of Gaming” highlights three main components of the gamification space: purpose, mechanics, and systems. In the first category, PSFK looks into which goals can be achieved through games. From solving complex problems in biology to crowdsourcing natural exploration, games can be designed to make progress towards a wide range of business, academic and personal objectives. PSFK grouped these goals into seven main categories that use games to solve complex problems, leverage collective effort through crowd-sourcing, educate on complex systems, teach new skills, improve health behaviors, encourage fundraising, and act as a marketing channel.
The next section provides an overview of game mechanics and how they can used to structure outcomes. PSFK’s list is not comprehensive, but they provide good product examples of the SAPS model at work, and how status, access, power, and stuff can be used successfully as motivators. Although collections such as Jesse Schell’s The Art of Game Design and PlayGen’s Game Design Toolkit provide a more complete picture of game mechanics, “The Future of Gaming” gives a more in depth look of how these mechanics function in real products and services.
The final two sections of the report introduce various platforms and game systems that can be used for gamification, followed by a deep-dive on “Gaming for Good” and how gamification is making a sustainable future a reality. Check out the preview above for more on these sections.
My primary criticism of PSFK’s report is that by mainly providing separate case studies on individual products, it is difficult to uncover how distinct design elements are often shared across high level categories. In order to examine the direction of these trends outside of just today’s iterations, it would be valuable to take individual design elements and mechanics as the basic items of analysis rather than as high level categories. Despite this, the report still provides a valuable resource in uncovering how individual products hint at the future of gamification.