How gamification can make you happier – and why you should care


A recent study by The Guardian found “clear and compelling evidence” that happiness is the key to better health and longer lifespans. The Happiness Movement is picking up steam thanks to organisations such as Action For Happiness, which aims to help people lead happy and fulfilling lives. We think gamification could have a big part to play in the happiness agenda.

The Action for Happiness project advocates 10 keys to happier living. These include taking care of your body, setting yourself goals to look forward to, connecting with people and doing something that gives your life meaning. Gamification is already being used for or could be used to help with each of these. Take a look at the whole framework from Action for Happiness here.

A great example of how gamification is being used to help people be healthier is the website Fitocracy, a gamified fitness social network. Fitocracy supports users in ‘leveling up’ their fitness.


How does it do this? By providing realistic goals, the ability to socialise with other people who are also ‘leveling up’, and by giving you the feeling that what you are doing really matters. And it does: healthier living leads to happier living, which could lead to a longer life!

The quest for happy living should not be excluded from the workplace either. The common problem is that while happier people work more productively, for most people work detracts from happiness (unless you’re a chocolate consultant, beer taster or the pièce de résistance, professional sleeper)

But like it or not, work is an important part of all of our lives. Freud said that work and love are the cornerstones of being human. While I’m not aware of a gamified way of finding love (yet) there are many ways gamification can help you be happier at work.

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Gamification can really improve the sense of achievement we get from our work. Completing achievements and “quests” and earning rewards can motivate us to keep working on jobs that we don’t especially want to do, as it gives us the feeling that we are contributing to something greater, giving our jobs more meaning.

Employees will also be more engaged with their job if they think it is important, and will be more likely to “go the extra mile”. There are strong links between employee engagement at work and organisation performance.

Ultimately, evidence suggests that happiness is the key to success, and not the other way round: money can’t buy you happiness, but instead could be a side effect of being happy already!


About the author 

Pete Baikins

Pete Baikins is an international authority on gamification, a lifelong gamer, successful entrepreneur and a lecturer. As CEO of Gamification+ Ltd he mentors and trains companies world-wide on the use of gamification to solve business challenges. Gamification+ won the Board of Trade Award from the UK's Department of International Trade in January 2019.

Pete is co-host of the health gamification podcast Health Points and is also Chair of Gamification Europe, the annual conference for Gamification practitioners.

Pete is an Honorary Ambassador for GamFed (International Gamification Confederation), having previously been the Chair from 2014 to February 2019, whose aim is to spread best practices within and support the gamification industry.

After 15 years as a Lecturer on gamification and entrepreneurship at the University of Brighton he now guest lectures on Gamification at King’s College London and at ESCP Europe at post-graduate and under-graduate levels.

Over the past 20 years Pete has built and sold two businesses. One was in security software and the more recent one was a telecoms and internet connectivity business. He is also an Ambassador for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce in the UK.

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