How does gamification affect motivation?

The main objective of gamification is that participants develop specific behaviour due to motivational stimulation. The impact of motivation in productivity is remarkable, according to Gallup research. In order to develop the concept of motivation, from the perspective of gamification, we can consider two additional theories:

  • Self-Determination Theory, Richard Ryan & Edward Decy (1985)
  • Motivational theories of Daniel Pink, which can be found in his book “Drive” (2011)

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in gamification

Self-Determination Theory states that human beings are automatically motivated, this means that “they show considerable efforts, abilities and commitment with their lives, which seems to be more common than unusual.” There are two types of motivation:

  • Intrinsic motivation refers to behaviour driven by internal rewards.
  • Extrinsic motivation refers to behaviour driven by external rewards.

However, Pink establishes three types of motivation, according to the kind of society throughout history and the challenges that individuals had to face. First motivation is focused on survival (Motivation 1.0). Second motivation (2.0) is based on a reward-punishment system which worked properly with the routine tasks of the 20th Century.  And the third motivation (3.0), the one of the 21st Century, is related to more creative tasks (since the routine ones are carried out by machines) and it has to arise from each individual; in other words, it has to be intrinsic. This video is very interesting since Pink explains the influence of economic incentives in the results and also how they can be counter-productive in some contexts.

Intrinsic motivation, which has been explained in the Self-Determination Theory, is defined as “the inherent tendency to look for challenge, change, improvement of your own abilities, exploring and learning.” This intrinsic motivation is related to three notions:

  • Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness

Pink defines other three concepts:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

RAMP model

Marczewski has combined all these ideas and has created the RAMP model.

  • Relatedness
  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

Gamification is a great tool to create these four intrinsic motivation drivers:

  • Relatedness means the way that an individual relates with others. Concepts like the status, in relation with others, are very significant as rewards in gamification.
  • Autonomy is understood as the ability of an individual to organise himself and keep control.
  • Mastery is related to the ability to reach defined goals, which have to be achievable but also challenging, and they have to make participants feel that they are learning new skills.
  • Purpose is the need of giving meaning to the performed actions, this can be, for example, as collaborative effort to achieve a reward as a team, or even with solidarity purposes.

All these intrinsic motivation triggers start working when teams’ work is subject to gamification.

Gamification as the perfect combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

We need to keep in mind the extrinsic motivation, the one related to external elements and rewards, such as wages or economic incentives. However, economic incentives are more or less advisable depending on the nature of the job, as Pink confirms in the video. This is because all the tasks we carry out in a job do not have the same nature, there are more routine tasks and there are others that demand much more creativity. Thanks to gamification, it is possible to combine both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.

If you want to know more about extrinsic motivation, please check “How to motivate better with monetary incentives.”

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