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How to Define the Context of a Business Gamification System

The context of a game or gamification system is simply its implied set of rules and values. Although not technically a game mechanic, it does include the dimensions of the game and the reasons for playing. Evidence of this context is in the fact that you might do something in a game you’d never do in real life. Sometimes the context is even literally addressed.

In the case of gamification, a context already exists. Imagine a website. It already has an inherent purpose, a value proposition that draws visitors. This is the site’s context, and it exists with or without the addition of gamification.

Proper gamification doesn’t strive to bring a new context to the site. It doesn’t create a self-contained game on top of or beside the pre-existing site. Rather, it strives to build a game around the existing site. The intent should be to enhance the value proposition and deepen the existing context.

With smart gamification, the primary value of the site doesn’t change. Neither do the primary user gameplay behaviors or objectives. It’s important to recognize that the site’s visitors did not come to play a game; they came to interact with the site. Gamification is about using your existing context.

Gamification, when done right, supports and enhances the natural context of the site. It measures valued gameplay behaviors. It sets goals. It recognizes accomplishments. It opens windows of visibility between like-minded visitors and makes valuable suggestions. For gamification to succeed, the natural values of the site must be a constant consideration during the design process. In other words, the game design has to respect the context.

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