Gamification principles & practices: re-launching your user engagement

Gamification principles & practices: re-launching your user engagement

Gamification principles & practices: re-launching your user engagement
Polskii Mark
Author at InAppStory

Gamification is not a new concept, but rather a rising trend that is making its stand among other marketing terms. Almost every modern concept has an applied set of gamification principles & practices used to influence the behavior and increase gamification user engagement. In this article, we're going to break down some of the basic components of gamification as well as review a major framework that explains why people play games.


Gamification design principles


Gamification design principles
These are the most basic principles borrowed from real games.


All of the gamification design principles that we’re going to list down here are the fundamental basis of a solid and commercial game. Each point is extremely effective and crucial to increase the gamification of user engagement of your app. The following are a few gamification techniques derived from game design.




A compelling narrative stimulates the creativity of users, satisfies them while giving them the enjoyment energy to return to the game once again. The player is drawn by a natural desire to see what happens next. Your story should provide a clear direction with various decision-making twists. Combine that with an intriguing tale and gamers will fall head over heels for your plot.

To assist the players with their actions, you need to highlight what they need to do. Provide visual indicators to demonstrate how their actions are assisting them in achieving those goals, as well as how much more they need to do before they are finished. Players are more motivated to continue when they can see and feel their progress.


Rewards and Gifts


Reward systems are one of the most basic gamification principles that you can encounter. As players progress through different levels and achieve tasks, you need to reward them with something valuable in return. It could be an in-game booster, an in-game currency that they can use, or even different plot routes. Whatever it is, it should satisfy the player's desires and provide definite value.


Visual Design


Design in gamification experience is not the very first gamification principle that you should concentrate on. But rather it is a critical aspect in creating a good game as designers have to understand that it will have an impact on a player's interest and gamification user engagement. After all, a game's visual design is the first impression for potential players.




Collecting items or completing certain progression tasks is an urge for a typical game. By providing players with something to aim for you establish their own goals. This encourages users to work harder to complete them. It instills a sense of expertise and mastery in the individual who completes the set. Additionally, it enables people to connect with others by sharing and comparing their collections.


Gradual complexity


If during regular sessions of gamification experience, the game itself stays at the same level of difficulty, then users will eventually become bored. Solid gamification principles & practices will always begin with simple rules while gradually increasing the difficulty of the game steadily, step-by-step. You need to give enough time for players to get adjusted to the new system before adding a new level of difficulty.


Gamification Principles: The MDE Framework


The MDE framework is a methodology based on philosophical views and a deep research process that emphasizes the importance of understanding a game through 3 core components: mechanics, dynamics, and emotions. Each component is deeply connected, which when combined becomes a unique game experience, as we showed below.


Gamification principle framework
The MDE framework with 3 core components: Emotions, Dynamics, and Mechanics.




Mechanics are the choices that designers implement to establish the objectives, rules, setting, context, type of interaction, and boundaries of the digital product that is to be gamified. These mechanics remain constant throughout the event. In other words, they do not vary among each player and are consistent each time a user engages in the gamified experience. For example, in chess, the mechanics include the players’ decisions, their movement, the process of capturing opponent pieces, the number and pattern of squares on the board, and how a winner is selected.


The mechanics of a gamified product are divided into three categories: setup mechanics, rule mechanics, and progression mechanics.


Setup mechanics 


These are the factors that influence the user’s app environment, such as the setting, the objects, and how these objects are to be distributed among players. For instance, if the gamified feature of an app is similar to the “Punchout” mechanics, then the setup mechanics will dictate who a player will face: Is the competitor easy or hard? Similar choices affect the gamified experience's overall context.


Rule Mechanics


The rule mechanics influence the concept or objective of the gamified experience that is being pursued. It may not only involve specifically various activities, but also the limitations (like time limits) that will restrict acts to exert pressure on players. Certain rule mechanics are extremely predictable and always produce the same results when the player input is unique.


Progression mechanics 


The progression mechanics are critical as they provide feedback on a player's progress toward the gamified experience goal. However, the achievement must be appealing to participants; otherwise, the experience loses its point completely. 


The distribution of such unique rewards is critical to progression mechanics. Designers must carefully arrange this distribution, as errors inside this framework are extremely costly and could even bankrupt the budget for the gamified application. Additionally, having an excessive number of awards can disturb the overall intensity and the significance of wins and/or losses.




The dynamics refer to the number of user behavior patterns that arise as a result of the gamified experience. In contrast to the designer mechanics that we mentioned previously, the dynamics factor is determined by how frequently users interact with these designer mechanisms. It encompasses both in-game behaviors, strategic actions, and exchanges that occur throughout gameplay.




The 'Emotions' component is defined as the response received from the players in the process of interacting with the game. It is used to describe the level of involvement that mobile app development companies may achieve with their digital product and customers.

Emotions are the result of players adhering to the mechanics component and then creating dynamics. All emotions associated with a gamified experience should be enjoyable and appealing on all levels. Assuming that players will stop playing if they are not having fun, gamification's primary purpose should be to increase player enjoyment. This type of enjoyment can take on a variety of forms, including positive feelings such as amusement, amazement, surprise, and wonder, as well as a personal triumph.




The gamification experience varies in different forms and sizes, starting from the simple development of wealthy habits to participating in marketing campaigns. There are numerous applications where the gamification principles & practices are commonly used and not many people are aware of that.

Together with our partners, InAppStory produces engaging and highly interactive gamification features. Each varies depending on the business goals our clients have put before themselves. If you want to see how powerful they are and why exactly they increase your app engagement at least twice what it was, feel free to sign up for a free 30-day trial.