What is this thing called Gamification?

Over the past few decades, I have done a lot of work with measurement and automation for process industrial plants. I have also been writing software for related applications, as well as for signal analysis and different types of simulations.

During all that I have learned that no program can serve its purpose well unless it is both user-friendly and has a comprehensive, well-though-out interface to provide results to the user. This is the one thing that really stood out to me, again and again, throughout my past 25 years as an engineer.

I have never been a gamer myself but when I watched my daughter play computer games, I realized that there was something these games did exceedingly well. They kept the user, the player, in the center of events the program was creating.

Industrial programs have grown much larger and their graphical interfaces much more sophisticated over the last 20 years. Still, many of them are very complicated to use and the designers seem to have completely ignored the human element, in other words, the user. Embarrassingly, this holds true also for some of the programs I have written.

So I asked myself, would it be possible to lift the users into the center of events in an industrial program? Fortunately, there was a good technique for that and it was called GAMIFICATION. I asked our expert in game design, Mr. Ville Vuorela from IndustrySim Ltd. to describe what gamification really means. This was his response.

“Gamification means using game mechanics and design techniques to engage and motivate people in the use of a system. Simply put, it adds a layer of goals, rewards and failure conditions that first motivate the user to engage the system as a challenge and then reward the user for overcoming those challenges by applying the correct responses and procedures. Finally, allowing the user to retain those rewards in some form makes the user personally invested in what would otherwise be, let’s say, an impersonal training sim.“

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