The practice of adding game mechanics to encourage engagement is likely to spread by the year 2020 and be embedded in our everyday life. Its roots in pre-digital consumer culture suggest its here to stay.

Gamification embedded into our lives by 2020 ?

Startups and services are continually finding new ways to implement gamification - the trendy game mechanics and reward systems that appear in everything from check-in apps to office productivity suites. Some tech analysts predict that these tools will become more embedded in daily life by the year 2020 - with varying theories on how that will manifest. One side agrees that game elements can aid in the areas that they appear in, for example in education, health, business and training. Others look ahead and see a way for user behavior to be covertly manipulated. A joint report from Elon University and Pew’s Internet & American Life Project examines the various viewpoints on how “game layers” will affect these areas in the future.

Cultural institutions can impact the trend

Many of the experts who responded to the study predict that 2020 is too early to see a full realization of the growing influence of gamification. Despite this fact, uptake could be greatly affected by how it is utilized by cultural organizations - this will take its spread from the insular world of startups to the general public. According to one respondent, “If churches and service clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis decide they can better carry out their mission by moving some playful donation activities onto their members’ smart phones, we will have crossed an important cultural barrier.”

“Gamification” could evolve into a more subtle form, with another name

A lot of answers from respondents suggested that gamification might be too awkward of a term. Games are getting more deeply woven into what consumers expect when they are online, shopping or using software, and into our lives. As it is becoming mainstream, the word “gamification” itself might loose its meaning at some point, so in its journey towards mass deployment it will likely be recoined as something more precise or convenient, such as “inferential sociology.” Indeed, what we now call “gamification” is not totally new – rather, we are bringing learned behaviors into the digital sphere more often. What really is new is the scale and pervasiveness of it.