Apps and Gamification

Let us start off with the comment that to me, using ‘Apps’ as a distinctive category is the same sort of categorisation as ‘Books’.  It is a media-format. It might be a little more suitable for some content than for others, but building a good App cannot be viewed without inspecting the content.  So what defines an App? After some scouring of the Internet I define Apps as an application or piece of software that is small, has a limited use, can be used instantly and is developed for the mobile platform.

In the last feature we find marvellous possibilities for Gamification. In our pockets (or handbags) we carry a sensor array concealed as a device for making phone calls. With every smartphone we carry around the possibility for audio visual processing, timekeeping, location tracking and an open connection to the world biggest collection of information. All means for measurement which can be used to power feedback, or to build henceforth unseen structures overlaying our reality.

In more ways than one – Gamification is the art of creating new and inventive ways for feedback. A game structure, or a part thereof, can hold a story and through that story we can find (new) meaning.  In our hand we hold the technical tools necessary for measurement and processing, while in our head we can hold structures linking such measurements together. The way this is woven together gives meaning to cold, hard data.

Figure Running for example, uses the measurement of GPS, placing the collected data over the existing structures of maps and adds the creative freedom of drawing on this map with your feet.  We can interpret the resulting drawing for it is telling us a story.  Through technical application and feedback we’ve created a new structure in reality. Sounds like a game to me.

I would encourage the masses of Appmakers to view the measurement data they can tap into as opportunities for feedback, to see such data as building blocks for unseen structures and the idea of play as a way to weave such things together.

Gamification is a very useful framework to look at your user and to go from pointless data to engaging information.

Blog written for the Appril-festival 2014

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