To understand the power of gamification, it is important to understand why people play games.
Games are an important vehicle for generating self-esteem. While playing is certainly about amusement, it is also about feeling good about one’s self. Most people enjoy a healthy competition where intelligent obstacles can be overcome, favorable comparison is possible, and some resolution is reached in the end–hopefully with a win.
Games are driven by story. Perhaps the most powerful illustration of this is found in the classic tale The Wizard of Oz. There’s much more to the story than a young girl traveling to a new world, following a predefined path and ending up at a destination that helps her achieve her goal. Instead, as she travels along the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy makes friends, becomes part of a team, overcomes several challenges, and, finally, attains what her heart desires most. The story revolves around a developmental process in which a shy, uncertain, and insecure girl becomes an assertive, knowledgeable, and empowered young woman.
Stories give us a model for our own lives. The Wizard of Oz and Dorothy’s journey in it becomes a metaphor for the power each of us has to uncover our untapped potential and develop those qualities that we most admire.