#smallgamification – affordable gamification for all


I speak to a lot of people about gamification and I wondered if you have the same frequent experience as me? Have you ever been explaining what gamification is to someone who runs a small to medium sized business? Then, when they get it you can see the light of understanding in their eyes and hear the excitement in their voice as they picture how they’re going to use gamification to solve the great issues in their business. Feels good doesn’t it?

Then… they want to know how much it is going to cost. At this point they have some huge project in mind to solve their big issue. So maybe you show them some great examples of gamification in use. Probably you show them a slick looking gamified app, or a funky gamified advert. Unexpectedly, you see their shoulders deflate and their eyes go dull. What happened? They suddenly realised that they’ll never be able to afford the project they want!

I don’t want to see anyone disappointed by gamification. In fact, I want everyone to benefit from it in some way!

Most of the gamification examples we hear about cost a lot. We are talking about solutions in the range of even millions. Organisations with huge budgets spend a lot of money on gamification projects.

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America’s Army

The US army made a game in order to recruit and train new soldiers. At first the project was supposed to run for 5 years and produce one game. But the game was so successful that the project ended up being much bigger than initially planned. More than $8 million spent on the project.

Cargo Dynasty

Looks great.


Here’s one from the UK. Scratch cards, prize draw entries, vouchers and more. Don’t get me wrong it is a great platform and they were up and running in just 6 weeks. But it is pricey for a small business!

Quest For Oil

They’re now on version 2. Fantastic. Unaffordable for most.

How do I compete?

It makes perfect sense though. Large organisations spend huge amounts of money on everything not just gamification. They spend mountains of money on marketing, advertising, logistics, every aspect of a huge international company includes a lot of spending.

Someone working in a medium or small sized company may feel despair hearing these numbers. How can I compete with gamification that costs so much you may wonder?

The answer is you have to compete in a different way and on a different scale. The same goes for every aspect of your business when you compare it with a huge corporation. You can’t spend huge amounts on marketing but you still do marketing for your company. You just approach marketing in a different way. You do it through free social media channels and use tools and solutions that you can afford.

It’s exactly the same with gamification. The difference is that while there are obvious and inexpensive options for social media like Facebook and Twitter. There are no obvious cheap solutions to gamification.

Small gamification does exist though.

Bonusly is a way to recognise your colleagues work though micro bonuses. You can give each other points that translate into rewards from your company’s reward catalogue which can be something from amazon or a cup of coffee. It is a free tool to setup and use if you have a small team.

Todoist is a productivity tool. It helps you make lists of tasks you need to do and keep track of them. They introduced some gamification features named Todoist Karma. You get awarded points for each task you perform and the app tracks your progress throughout the month and it’s free to use. 

Captain Up is an affordable service that you can use to implement gamification elements to your website or application. I met someone in Malaysia recently who was thoroughly engaged with the game mechanics of Captain Up as used on Yu-kai’s website.

The same goes for getbadges.io which offers integration of game elements to your website or applications.

Step Jockey is an application that motivates your organisation to use the stairs more in order to exercise. You can rate the stairs in the building for calorie burn, then you label those stairs in order to be able to track your progress and finally you see the results of your progress on the gamified application. You can use this for free!

This is a gamified MS SharePoint onboarding system that we developed alongside our partners JFDI Consulting and motivates users of Sharepoint to explore more of the options and tools they have in Sharepoint. Just takes a couple of days to add it to your site and customise your onboarding challenges.

Off the shelf you can get gamified CRM systems, such as CRM.me which I talked about in detail at last year's Gamification World Congress..

So one affordable approach is to take advantage of already gamified tools.

The other approach is to think small gamification and build on your small gamified successes. What I mean is to apply gamification design to any small issue or process and still have a big impact in a small area.

So, I’ve got a few small gamification examples to inspire you. Start thinking what impact you could have in your company.

The first one is a basketball hoop as a way of getting your kid to put their dirty laundry in the basket.

Another example of small gamification that most of you will be familiar with is the little circle that LinkedIn build into the profiles in order to motivate users to fill in their details.

You’ve probably all seen this gamified CV. That’s a great example of gamification. Robby Leonardi gamified his resume using all his skills to present it in an interactive website. I like this as he found a way to gamify that played to his skills.

You probably all seen the original Piano stairs video from VW’s the Fun Theory, a classic example of gamification. But now you can buy a kit for your office for just 130 euros.

This is our own gamification hack. We gamified our own business cards. We used Andrzej’s Player Type Hexad and added something for every Player Type except one. So that we could motivate as many people as possible. There’s plenty for the Socialisers amongst you to do and even an option for the Disruptors out there. Which player type is missing I wonder? I also like this example as it shows that gamification does not have to be digital and indeed doesn’t have to look like a game.

Recently I employed a new person in my business. Vasilis, known as Billy. So we took my card and made it more obviously fun. He designed his as a snakes and ladders game.

Please can you send us any examples of small gamification, #smallgamification on Twitter. We will try to publish them all on our website as a source of affordable gamification inspiration for you all.

Thank you!


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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