The future of gamification.

The top trends impacting the future of a gamified world.

Gamified player

Gamified player

One of the most explosive trends in recent years has to be the hype bubble and reality of daily gamification in our lives. From game-based learning to actual gamification processes in apps, education, business and government programs. Here we take a look at what gamification will become in a post-2017/2018 world.

We explore what in our opinion will become the most significant trends and factors impacting this field.

Firstly let us look backward at some of the prior predictions from various respected sources. The BBC once issued an article asking if gamification is dead. This 2014 article highlighted the various weaknesses of poorly deployed gamification projects. We are glad to say the industry and field have moved away from these poor examples and continues to thrive with improved quality and design.

A short but popular article published by Fast Company in 2015 seemed to reflect a more mature approach to the potential of gamification in a modern workplace. Identification of a more holistic approach, utilizing the power of analytics and ensuring the employee and customer focus for success.

The well-respected global consultants Gartner produced their anticipated report on the future of gamification by 2020 much of the content from this report was based on a prediction that 80% of businesses will have introduced some form of gamification. Another key area it predicts includes globalization of education and gamified personal development.

Our daily involvement with business and personal lives offers some different and more supportive views to where gamification is heading in the future. The purpose of this article is not to set hard dates as this in our opinion is mere folly. Instead, we concentrate on the highest impacting trends that are at either end of the impact trajectory. Those that have little voice but are building rapidly plus the established tide of direction across the world.

Let’s get started and see what the future has in store for us.

NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming

Exploring NLP

Exploring NLP

The maturity cycle of gamification during 2017 highlights a trend towards NLP in its design. The core elements of NLP include Modeling (learning), Consciousness states (subconscious and conscious) and behavior. Each of these elements offers a huge variety of scope for companies to put their unique “spin” on. So, some gamified projects will have better modeling and poorer emphasis on the subconscious. Others will be different.

Risk: This Pandora’s Box of subjectivity means the lack of design transparency will generate a wide range of success and failure from a point of good intent. Many of the current theories of NLP are yet to be fully embraced by the academic world and still might become deeply debunked. This might impact the industry and brand image of gamification in a negative way.

Opportunity: Careful research can use insights gained from psychology research to become deployed in gamified projects. The potential to draw experiences and engage the full range of our senses will enhance engagement potential and form deeper relationships with the project.

An interesting read is this summary by The Chartered Institute for IT, offering some short but good insights on this subject.

Merging with a world focused on UX and CX and Strategy form.

We see dedicated outsource software, consultants (like JAMSO) and multi-discipline leaders within gamification. This position has grown but never become a fully realized independent position within the average workplace. Indeed, it has become rather more interdependent within HR, Marketing, Sales and IT.

We do see however the explosion of user experience and customer experience positions, consultants advertised across most industries. Part of their job description touches directly or indirectly on gamification.

So, we see UX and CX (User experience and customer experience) managers and practitioners as the key link pin to a strong future for gamification. The current skill sets of these position holders tend to be more biased towards marketing, IT workflow and design backgrounds. This will, therefore, take more time before their skills, awareness, and embracement of gamification can fully be deployed with sustained success.

Risk: Style and ergonomics and behavior science will skew the overriding direction of services and products. The need to be “same but different” in an ever more niched world of commerce indicates that some boldness and risk will be reduced in market testing. So, gamification will fall less from the core of action and take a more supportive role in influencing design and company culture.


This is our belief is the time when gamification can come of age. For those that are deeply involved with “the industry”, almost everything is gamified. Heck, even writing this article has some gamified elements for me as the writer that will not be seen in its content. So, we finally see gamified principles being embraced and enacted upon. The results of motivation, engagement, and productivity are fantastic. – Great times ahead.

We like this article providing some insights of a day in the life of the Head of User Experience as detailed by eConsultancy. This is a great example of the direction we see continuing.


Several important factors are coming to a pivot point. We have more data and data points than ever, analytics capacities become better and cheaper and at long last algorithms are building the capacity through machine learning to individualize and personalize solutions. So, your challenges in health, education, relationships etc. will continue to be more and more personalized to you as an individual and not part of a marketing subgroup for targeting.

Risk: During the path towards personalization there will, of course, be incidents where the software and algorithms get it wrong. The outcome will range from incorrect outcomes, frustration and significant loss of confidence in services, people, and even gamification as a branded strategy.

Opportunity: Individualized learning and marketing is the dream of service providers and participants alike. The improved experience with profit protection is a clear win-win and mutually endorsing the position. We like it, we think you will love it; we both just need to work to get it.

A couple of extra reads in this area:

A good read for “hyper-personalization” is here discussed by Dataconomy

TechCrunch released this good overview of this emerging trend within edtech already in 2016.

Complex alignment of internal and external goals

We hear and read about a “work-life balance”. These are often seen as two different areas that generate a form of tension between each other. Changes to modern working practices permit in many cases more flexibility for workers to mix their day so events fit around their work expectations and daily life. Behind these actions are the actual end goals, principles and “vision”. We expect gamification to start embracing these elements from both parts of your life and start to merge them. Over time this will spread into commerce and government areas also.

Festivals goals are fun and profit, the "players" aim is fun

Festivals goals are fun and profit, the "players" aim is fun

So, a person that has a career ambition to become a financial director will see their educational aspirations and social life opportunities created through software suggestions to help drive the person towards their path. We also in the meantime will see the data points being used by the employer to draw a career path or become risk aware of a potential recruitment timeline and staff-churn consequence.

These subtle ripples of daily life can also be aligned mutually through gamified design so share and show elements of the same path that will help boost engagement and motivation.

Risk: The frequency of goal review at a personal or organizational level sometimes hides a deeper truth. A goal is often set because a question was asked rather than an inert desire to actually create a goal for that area in the first place. Social engineering consequences also render it to question for such idealistic actions.

Opportunity: Having a deeper appreciation of why some needs to be done is always a divider for support or disagreement. Here the process seeks to positively identify parts of goals that are actually aligned, even if for a short period of time. Building a Venn diagram of common alignments will boost motivation and help gamification create an ever-larger impact on society.

Gabe Zimmerman is a key influencer in the field of gamification. In this back to basics article, he reminds the core ingredients and elements for the purpose a gamified strategy.

Predictive Analytics for learning cadence

One of the most frequent and established areas for gamification is within the fields of education, learning, eLearning and edtech. The tools so far have brought improved motivation and learning to students across the world. The next logical step in our digital world is how this information can provide improved experiences and speed the pace of learning at each personal level.

Risk: Moving towards predictive decisions in the early years of the technology will reduce the hidden and unmeasured opportunities. Therefore reliance upon simpler algorithms to generate scale as opposed to quality insights will leave many dis-serviced students. To put it simply, a student’s potential will be incorrectly calculated based on a limited amount of data collection points and prior behaviors. Genius needs to be identified and not policed out by mistake.

Opportunity: Once the initial hurdle of the early years are behind us and improved machine learning tools developed, then having a personalized study program can help boost the cadence of the student. Taking on optimal learning times, durations and content types will allow a much stronger depth of education standards across the world.

A JAMSO orange world of gamified fun and success

A JAMSO orange world of gamified fun and success

This early produced report by PAR Framework hits many salient points if at the time it was slightly too early and ambitious with its predictions. A good read to see the potential and path from big data sources into daily education.



Some familiar acronyms and audible

Now there is a collection big trend, so why did we bundle them together? They are all happening and developing further every day. Their impact and effects are felt increasingly so these are less talk about “the future” than a mention of “today”.

Augmented Reality (AG) – The costs of AG continue to reduce and applications are expanding rapidly. A perfect game based learning and gamification tool.

Virtual Reality (VR) – Similar to AG the technology continues to become more robust. We at JAMSO see larger scope for AG than VR due to the physical isolation and safety concerns of VR.

IOT (Internet of Things) – This is the lifeblood of the future and growing internet. Being connected to an ever-increasing number of devices it is clear the direct applications and opportunities to interact and record gamification progress and feedback responses possible through this innovation.

Audible – With the growth of podcasting and voice interactions with mobile devices, expect a higher integration of audio applications linked to gamified projects as an important tool.

Risks: These trends offer unique risks from a strategic level but due to their implementation phase in the history of gamification, the greatest risk is being left behind them!

Opportunity: This requires the least explanation; their applications are known and being seen daily. Simply consider the suitability and cost/benefit for each area and then implement. – Enjoy the ride.

AG - Enjoy this summary of augmented reality as part of a collaboration system – summary article from several leading institutions.

VR – A starter’s practical guide is here from eLearning learning on the core ingredients to a successful VR deployment

IOT – Adobe provide a short daily life example of how they believe IOT and gamification will work for better customer experiences

Audio – Take some knowledge from the world of podcasting by listening to the content via this link.

More narrative and fewer badges

Let’s be honest most gamification projects have a weak story and strong benefits. The rewards of status and badges have lifted some poor implementations out of the ditch and into a survival mode of success. This will no longer be sustainable. As more people understand they are players and are being played within a gamification strategy, the overriding narrative and story will become more important.

So, simply having good leaderboards for sanitation standards will not be as effective in the future as to link the action to a greater cause such as saving harm and costs of disease.

Risks: A balance should be struck between being too idealistic, ambiguous and personal. A risk with the story line or narrative is to make the players disengage in the cause. Being more humble and authentic with your narrative is a big win for success.

Opportunity: We notice that a strong narrative can help reduce the management and rewards costs of a gamification project with continued success. At JAMSO we suggest not jumping from one story to another but plot your overall narrative over a multi-year timeline.

Edutopia wrote a short but good article on how narrative helps students through a gamification strategy.

More virtual communities and tribes

The marketing legend Seth Godin helped shape and influence the business world around the concept of product and services tribes. So far we see this in more 2-dimensional cases so, for example, your health app might help you compare yourself to an “all users”, “age similar” or “friends”. These leaderboard comparisons are great for developing benchmarks and engagement. Imagine then, that process being taken even further. Here we go deeper by using the power of big data to compare your status with others who are on similar diets, hobbies, interests and health phase (post injury recover). These deeper Venn diagram tribes will enhance and personalize your success.

Risks: We have seen in recent times via social media algorithms the potential negative impact from a lack of randomness in information. By reinforcing beliefs this may prove more satisfying for the consumer but it isolates and shields randomness that is also an important part of the human experience. Some hidden benefits elsewhere might be missed under the guise of a more important customer experience.

Opportunity: Trust, confidence, and loyalty are the bedrock elements of a business. By serving balanced information that is less subjective and more relevant, enhances its own value. We see this as a critical part of future gamified success. – Work on it and get it right.

Read this paper at the University of Hertfordshire about brand tribalism and virtual communities.

Backlash for breached ethics and game manipulation

The flow of psychology with good intent for positive commercial results is a significant competitive advantage. Indeed, many of the best minds in the world are working for many of the leading Silicon Valley tech companies. Their knowledge, research, and ideas within behavioral science bring us the positive experience we have with online games and social media. The reason however that there is also a grown backlash against these companies is the potential for them to cross over the line and create addictive traits in more vulnerable individuals.

Mindfulness in action

Mindfulness in action

The tide of “off the grid” camps and parental frustration is a hot topic at work, in the café and with friends and family. Society recognizes the problem and a rising tide and voice is coming to address it.

Risk: Much of marketing and design A/B testing within gamification design has a success result standard. Too often a lack of addictiveness perceived as a negative result means we simply do not know what we are doing to the minds of hundreds of millions of consumers each day. – Is Social Media the new heroin or cigarette society?

Opportunity: Balanced and socially responsible design will continue to benefit the players and society it serves. By taking on respectful ethical position increased loyalty will be gained from like-minded parts of the community.



A collection of papers raising ethical questions is listed and highlighted from within this CHI2015 workshop.

Regulation and governance

With too much success, often follows regulation. Current lobby elements across the world mean that habit-forming apps, and gamification design remain in the most part unregulated. There is yet to be developed an ethics board to self-regulate and govern the rules of the rules of the game. We expect in the future that sufficient social pressure will force the government to implement some form of regulation to limit abuse and protect consumers.

Risk: If data is the new oil, then behavior science will become the new currency. Manipulating a population into behaviors that lead to negative results will be too tempting at some future point to a foreign nation states, organization or even terrorist group. The harm that having a too effective and too smart game design sounds a bit farfetched, yet we have already come a long way in a few short years. Image another 10!

Opportunity: With good ethical principles and transparent values and rules within a society, gamification can use the best and latest research for the positive good. – So, let’s choose this path.

We enjoyed this discussion article and proposal by Entrepreneur magazine on what a government should do when being outpaced by innovation.

Gamification 2.0

So far on this list, I have avoided too much reference to machine learning and artificial intelligence. They are part of the overall future trend and support some of the prior mentioned factors. However, in Gamification 2.0, we see a positive and bright future.

This is a period of time when all the above factors have matured and come of age. By then we shall no doubt see regional culture impacting the gamification designs to an ever greater degree and a “haves and have-nots” of gamification societies. This can turn into a positive or high-risk ethical journey. That is up to you and us to help shape, inform and make the most out of for an improved world

What do your research and experience tell you about these points? Do you agree or disagree with this future we predict? Let us know by dropping a comment below or join in the debate on social media. We would love to hear from you.

The JAMSO "Family" at the Berlin wall, a reminder of the past and building a future

The JAMSO "Family" at the Berlin wall, a reminder of the past and building a future

If your business is seeking ways to manage and take the opportunity of these trends then feel free to reach out to us for more a chat and share of minds. We offer consultancy services that can help you.

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