What is it about games or gamified apps that makes us want to keep using them? Multiple reasons are given for this technology craze. In a way, we are addicted to dopamine hits and are using our phones to satisfy our constant need for instant gratification. That is partially correct, although other neurotransmitters such as oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins also come into play when implementing gamification in your employee or customer engagement strategies.
In regards to engagement people get motivated on two different levels. On one hand, we have extrinsic motivation, where we are motivated to do something because of the external reward we will be achieving. Extrinsic motivators are often established through gamification in the form of points, milestones, achievements, rewards or notifications.
Most existing reward systems today are built on extrinsic motivators. For example when you need to complete a task in order to get paid. External rewards are a good initial motivator however, once it is overused the effects tend to be lost. Once someone starts to focus too much on the external rewards they often lose initial engagement, this is called the Overjustification effect.
On the other hand, we have intrinsic motivation. This is when we gain rewards internally because the activity in itself is rewarding and fun. The self-determination theory by Deci and Ryan is a theory concerning innate psychological needs. It shows the motivations behind choices we make. Our three most basic psychological needs are:
This recognizes our need of wanting to be in control of things. It also explains why we enjoy discovering new skills and practicing them to eventually achieve mastery.
Humans are social animals! We like interactions with each other and to feel and be connected with others, showing and experiencing genuine care.
Again showcasing our strong will to be in control of our own journey and life decisions.
Intrinsic motivators include relationships such as competition, collaboration and community feeling, the feeling of accomplishment through progress, achievement and collection, empowerment through autonomy and feedback, unpredictability through surprise, exploration and scarcity and lastly constraints through scarcity, loss and avoidance.