Two Types of #Gamification

Digging a little deeper into the concept of gamification, I think there are actually two types of gamification. The first type is Structural Gamification and the second is Content Gamification

Structural Gamification

This is the application of game-elements to propel a learner through content with no alteration or changes to the content itself. The content does not become game-like, only the structure around the content. The primary focus behind this type of gamification is to motivate the learner to go through the content and to engage them in the process of learning through rewards.

An example would be a learner gaining points within a course for watching a video or completing an assignment where the assignment or video had no game elements associate with them other than the fact that the learner received points for watching the video or completing the assignment.

The most common elements in this type of gamification are points, badges, achievements and levels. This type of gamification also typically has a leaderboard and methods of tracking learning progress. As well as a social component where learners can share accomplishments with other learners and share what they have achieved. Although, it is possible to add elements of story, characters and other game elements to structural gamification the content does not change to become game-like.

Content Gamification

This is the application of game elements and game thinking to alter content to make it more game-like. For example, adding story elements to a compliance course or starting a course with a challenge instead of a list of objectives are both methods of content gamification.

Adding these elements makes the content more game-like but doesn’t turn the content into a game. It simply provides context or activities which are used within games and adds them to the content being taught.

Posted in: Games

Leave a Comment (5) ↓


  1. Andrzej Marczewski (@daverage) August 23, 2013

    Love this definition.

    Structural is what we would tend to use with on-boarding / scaffolding, very superficial just to get momentum going as they learn the system or as we try to initiate habit building.

    I wonder if there is a 3rd type though. Structural gamification in this format should be used to lead people towards finding the intrinsic motivation to do something (especially when considering non learning based gamification).

    So Structural could lead to Intrinsic (Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in the definition I tend to use). Structural would support the Intrinsic.

    An example would be a question and answer site. A user enters and the structural gamification leads them through learning how to get the best from the site, profile completion and maybe answering a few questions. However, you want them to find an intrinsic reason to stay – that of altruism, answering questions because they want to help other users get the best info they can. This would be the intrinsic gamification (or whatever you would call it). You don’t want them to only stay and answer the questions because they get points – they will never be giving you the best they have to offer that way!

    Just a thought 🙂

  2. Gayle March 25, 2013

    When is it best to use one or the other?

  3. Rick Blunt March 25, 2013

    Hi Karl,

    It would seem to me that the Structural Gamification would wear off very quickly. I also see that being used just for the sake of being “new.” It’s similar to what you’ve said in the past. Giving your kids stars for brushing their teeth looses its appeal quickly.


  4. shalini March 25, 2013

    Gamification is required to engage the learners in the training. Thanks for the post on this.

Karl Kapp
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