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Principles of Gamification

Updated on September 7, 2017

When considering a marketing strategy, people go wrong by only thinking one way. A change of thinking can have a devastating difference in the end and that is exactly why a deep understanding of the psychology of customers is crucial. Let's take a quick overview of the most common and most powerful ways to build strong relationships with your customers or players and create a high level of engagement with your product or service.

Delivering an Expirience

One thing to keep in mind before we delve into the core principles of gamification is the idea that you are ultimately designing a customer experience. In game development, the customer is the player and the importance of customer experience is so obvious. How come some games are so addictive while others you wouldn't play even if you were paid to? If you are interested in creating an addictive gameplay I suggest learning more about "flow states" with this article I have written some time ago, and think about ways to create best conditions for your players to enter this state. Now let's get into the principles.

Access, Status, Power, Stuff

There are certain "rewards" so to speak in every game or you can use these principles for marketing purposes. These are quite universal and at least some of these elements can be found in any good game. Players generally strive to achieve some of the things mentioned in the heading of this paragraph, but at the same time, there are few other aspects that are not really gift-like but rather define some aspects of the interaction, here they are: Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose. To keep things simple you can think about Gamification like this:

4 Gifts That Have Value for Players (ASPS) and 3 Qualities (MAP)

Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose

To give you a quick idea of what these words mean in the context of Gamification let's start with Purpose. A clear Purpose will help your players stay focused and engaged, it also gives perspective so that one can evaluate the status or progress of the game.
Many gamers get addicted to the levels of Mastery they achieve and that is completely natural because humans are designed to learn and master survival skills this is very deep coded in our genes. There is a great enjoyment of mastering an activity and being creative, just think about any performing art, so if you design a game that allows for masterful gameplay it gives it such a powerful potential to become addictive. And last but not least, Autonomy gives the player a feeling of control and identity. When a player deeply identifies he makes an unconscious emotional investment. Make sure you give him the ability to make his own choices and all the problem solving he needs to do ultimately depends only on him/her.


One of the ways to reward your customers or players is to give them more access, meaning unlocking features that were not available to them from the beginning. By being able to use a feature or information that is not available to all people you can create a feeling of privilege the players love.


This one is somewhat expected but easily overlooked by game-makers. People in real life often spend huge money on things that don't really gave a huge practical value but rather give them status. This is the case with brand clothes, extra expensive cars, watches, houses etc. People love to be socially competitive, so giving them a status property like a level of mastery (Beginner, Intermediate, Expert) or placing them on a leaderboard will give a different dimension to the same game and it will naturally boost competitiveness.


The ability to control or influence other people gives players a feeling of authority and power which can be very addictive. They don't have to be real people, but virtual ones created in the game. When using gamification for a promotional campaign you may give people an extra service and the targeted customers will feel extra privileged and happy.


People love collecting prices or objects, somehow in our culture, physical objects in our subconscious mean value, and very often this is true, they can be sold for some money. However, most people don't make the most of the trading potential of goods, because it takes time, skill and knowledge to make good bargains consistently. Regardless of that, even though most people don't actively engage in trading, they consider "stuff" as things of value so you can exploit that in your marketing by giving out things that are cheap for you, but still will be appreciated when customers receive them as gifts and considered a potential value. In games, this principle is almost always present and players have some kind of inventory to collect things, or scores are expressed in diamonds, gold, crystals...etc.


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