Gamification Research

Blog 8: The Difficulty of Creating Meaningfull Achievments and Rewards

2 min read

After working you want to be rewarded. Some people speak of the path should be the reward or like enjoy the hustle or enjoy the rid or something like that. Which is true but lets be honest, knowing that there is something at the end of the path will make it easier to even get started and keep going when it gets hard. Gamedesigners often struggle with creating meaningful rewards, this comes from the fact that not everyone is motivated the same way. We can look at games and find people who will do something tedious for hours just to complete all tasks, other times people will stop after minutes if they aren’t rewarded right away. When it comes to gamification, my strategy has been; design the game you wish to play. That mean finding and creating the rewards matching your goals. This has really proven to be quite the challenge for me. As a dopamine addict, I look for destractions every second i get, and unintentionally reward myself throughout the whole day without doing the work. This has really increased the need for me to come up with creative and outlandish rewards, or… i can just stop rewarding myself without doing any work. This turns out to be quite the challenge but it is absolutely worth it. It took me while to train my mind to hold on and push through with a task before watching an episode of my favorite show, or grabbing a bite to eat. And believe me i still struggle with this. But it is soooo worth it. Not only have i gotten more productive.  

Blog 7 Skill Trees Should be Part of Every Educational System

5 min read

If you think about how an educational career is set up it actually already is a rudimentary skill tree. Lets say you want to become a doctor. In Germany you would need to accomplish primary school to continue on to middle school, this would lead to high school. Here you will ideally get the best grades possible so that you get the highest chances to getting into a medical university. In the medical university you will then need to accomplish all the steps to become a doctor. This may take another 5-7 years of passing all kinds of exams so that you can begin with your doctorate thesis which will then finally make you an official doctor. All these steps could be displayed in a skill tree like in video games. Skill trees often start from one general starting point and then keep branching off, displaying gained abilities and thereby unlocking new paths to take. Each skill acquired on the way allows you to work on more complex steps down the line. 

Lets show off some skill trees from games. 

BEAMER3K. (2015). BL2 Gaige SkillTree. Sep 16, 2015.

Here you can see a skill tree from the game Borderlands 2, the character has three main skill trees to follow reaching full points on one of the skills on each row unlocks the next row until you get to the last skill. Eventually if you play continue playing the game excessively long  you will be able to unlock all skills. This skill progression requires you to make choices along the way, making you chose one path over another. This is similar to choosing a specialization in an educational degree.


Weese, K. (2021). Path of Exile Skilltree. photograph.

The game Path of Exile has one of the most complex interwoven skill trees that exists in games. As complex as it looks, one must note that each character class starts from a different point. But comparing this to real life one could think of each character class as a personality type in real life. Each personality type has certain strengths. That doesn’t mean that anything is off limits for an extrovert where an introvert would have an easier time, but rather that the path to get there may be longer and harder to reach. Either way this is just another example of a skill tree which applied to human life, is and will always be an abstraction or simplification of the complexity we all deal with in our lives. But taking that into account we could learn a lot from the simplified format of skill acquisition in games. 

Blog 6: An Inventory can help you minimize and plan your spendings

2 min read

Games like RPG games use inventories to add limitations to the player and force them into making meaningful decisions and prioritize what they want to carry around and keep. Sometimes you get the choice of upgrading your inventory with in game currency or experience points. I find these mechanics quite translatable into real life. As a student you mostly have low income and little experience about your desires and needs, once you level up through society and get a job you gain the ability to buy more things. So like in games you should be limited in how much you can buy and posses in relation to your wealth and experience. Creating an inventory allowed me to reflect on how much stuff I have accumilated, and with that knowledge I was able to make plans for purchases or getting rid of things. I need to decide my boundaries but by filling in what I have, it raised my awareness. Additionally I found that somethings need to get renewed so I planed in the expiration date of something or decided that I could upgrade eventually when I have the money. As an example lets take shoes. Shoes are something that has an expiration date due to the nature of its use case. One walks in them, therefor they break over time. This can be somewhat estimated, this allows me to plan the purchase of a new pair in lets say one year. Since one knows this degradation will happen it makes sense to add this into my budget plan. Another example is a winter jacket. Jackets have a much longer lifespan depending on their material. Some may even last a lifetime. Lets say you have a fairly expensive winter jacket that you got as a present. You know it will last another 20-30 years, but you do not actually like it that much because it does not fit your style. In your inventory you could add a condition to your jacket. For example: If you reach a new milestone in your career you buy a new jacket as a reward and sell your old one. All these things could be added in your inventory to help you plan better, allowing you to make higher quality choices for purchasing items. The issue I had was finding a proper application that allows me to do this. So i resorted to Excel or GoogleSheets for this again. 

In the image below you can see a snippet of the inventory that I designed in google sheets. As you can see I added the purchase date and a date for the next purchase with a budget for the item. This gives me a quick overview of what I have and needs to be purchased as well as indicating how much i spend on these items. All together I would spend 46 € for all products together. I also know that all these products run out about every 3 months, so therefor I can estimate that I spend around 200€ on these products a year. This can then be added to my budget plan. 

Blog 5 Why Tracking is a Core Concept for Gamification

5 min read


Gamification thrives under the ability to track your behaviours and action. This is because games are always working with a framework that hat set rules and boundaries for the player to follow, forcing the player to work within this framework. Within this framework the player is directed to achieve a goal, these goals are usually guided by subgoals which if you think about any goal, there really needs to be a way of messuring your progress. Translating this process into our lives sets the requirement for tracking. The tracking allows you to distinguish specific actions from the rest of your daily actions and placing them within the framework you have designed, allowing for gamification.

Lets get into some examples by listing some different types of tracking, say your goal is to become better at drawing. The framework relates to your goal and therefor requires you to track something that is connected to your drawing. There are multiple approaches on how you can track yourself on your journey to get better at drawing. The simplest way is to note down every time you sat down to draw. This might be documented on a sheet of paper, through checks or over an app to your phone like habithub (Although habithub merely notes if you did something on that day and does not document how often). Another approach would be timing yourself which is one of my favorite methods because it requires you to pay attention to your distractions and really gives you an overview on how much you are actively working on your goal. This method is more difficult to track since you need to remember to write down these times. The 10000 hour tracking app could be a useful app for this type of tracking. There are many more ways to track your progress and essentially it depends on what you would like to accomplish. If you just want to make sure you do something every day it would be easiest to use something like habit hub, but if you are trying to finish a complex goal that has multiple little aspects that need to be accomplished, then it might be best to chunk down that goal in smaller goals and track the achievement of each individualy sub-goal. What I am trying to make clear here is that tracking needs to be tailored to your goals that you are aiming to achieve. It also might not be very practical to track every detail and in most cases it is not necessary. We all know getting started is often the hardest part, therefor having a simple checklist for doing something can be motivating to at least start every day. Say you want to get more fit and stronger. You could write down all the workouts you do and the weights you use, tracking the time it took to accomplish the training, but the effort alone of writing all this down might demotivate you completely. (This is me majorly speaking out of experience btw, during this project here I have been haunted by the overwealming possiblities of gamifying my life. Taking a step back and simplifying it has been a major lesson for me. If I am not following through, its usually because i made it too hard on myself.) Back to the fitness example: A better approach would be to simply write down that you worked out that day so that you can keep an eye out for the days you missed. Seeing that you worked out 5 days in a row no matter how big the workout, can be very motivating to keep that streak going. (Small disclaimer here, you should take breaks from working out too. Muscle growth happens when you sleep.)

So to wrap it up, let me list the different types of tracking i have encountered so far. Checklist Tracking if i did or didnt do it today, counting tracking, how often i did something, Time tracking how long I have been doing something, Time or date tracking when have i worked on something. GPS tracking where have i done something. Emotional tracking, how did i feel doing something Subgoal tracking – achieving the diffent milestones towards a bigger goal (this one might involve u using different tracking for each sub goal)

In my attempts to track, I found that every goal needs a different approach and so far I have not found an applications that allows for the flexibility to track in all kinds of different ways. If you found one please let me know! Currently I am tracking in google sheets and This method allows me to use different formulas for different goals. A blank google sheets document will be released in the Tools section of this website.

Tracking types I have encountered so far:

1- Checklist Tracking: if I did or did not do it today

2- Counting Tracking: how often I did something

3- Time Tracking: how long have I been doing something

4- GPS Tracking: where have I done something

5- Emotional Tracking: how did I feel doing something

6- Subgoal Tracking – achieving the different milestones towards a bigger goal (this one might involve you using different tracking for each subgoal)

Blog 4: If it Was Not Tracked it Did Not Happen

1 min read

One thing I noticed about gamification applications is that a lot of existing methods require you to input some kind of data. Take Duo Lingo as an example. This application allows you to gamify your language learning process. To do this it requires you to use the application. Any learning that happens outside of the application can not be tracked by Duo Lingo and therefor does not gamify that part of your practice. It seems gamification is most practical if you have some form of tracking going on. At this point in my research, especially in relation to productivity, it is hard to imagine how gamification could take place without any type of tracking. In my different attempts to track my behavior I tried a mix of physical documentation with pen and paper as well as digital options. Both have their merits, paper and pen don’t run on battery and in many cases is quicker to follow through on, like when I want to track my sleeping time. A sheet of paper next to my bed is super convenient. Phones and other technical devices have the benefit of having applications that track certain metrics automatically. Like a running application which uses your GPS to track your distance, speed, elevation and with gadgets could even track your heart rate and so on. It is up to each of us to find creative ways of measuring our behaviors in relation to a specific goal, so that we can find the best approach to documenting the progress and allowing us to gamify. With the growing market of smart devices, tracking will become easier than ever.