Unsure What Gamification Really Is? You’re Probably Already Using It!

"If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that Gamification actually is all around." – Love Actually

Gamification may have been coined way back in 2002 by Nick Pelling, a game designer tasked with developing a game-like interface for ATMs and vending machines, but games have actually been around for 10 thousand years¹.

Playing games is a universal human behaviour and participating in play can take many different shapes, whether it’s board games, childlike roleplay, video games, sports, or target-based games. We believe in the power of gamification, so we make sure it’s at the heart of everything we design and manufacture.

But… what is ‘gamification’?

Gamification is the process of adding elements of gameplay and competition to non-gaming settings, enhancing user engagement. It’s all about having components of incentive or immediacy to attract engagement.

Freedom Gaming RoboRun Leaderboard

Rugged Interactive products can transform a soft play area into a Freedom Gaming arena, or gamify healthcare by combining rehab exercises with CardioWall games!

Why is gamification effective?

Gamified activities stimulate the reward system in our brains, releasing dopamine, which creates a positive association with the activity. Dopamine also plays a significant role in deciding the reward value of different activities², meaning that you are more likely to come back to it, as it is prioritised over a non-gamified activity.

Why gamification is so important:

  • Short attention spans – With modern technology and social media, everything is at our fingertips, meaning companies need to offer rewards or immediate gratification to win customer attention.
  • Spoilt for choice – Our options are endless when it comes to how we spend our money. Companies and products must stay on top of the game to win customer attention through exciting elements of gamification.

Companies use gamification to boost:

  • User engagement – Instant feedback from an action such as a score, a loyalty card stamp, or a level up, keeps customers excited.
  • Customer retention – Boosting customer experience means they come back for more. For example, returning to your FEC to beat their score on TriggerTrac!
  • Customer acquisition – Products become more attractive to use, people share their experience, and encourage future customers.
  • Sales – All these benefits of gamification combine to enhance user experience, to keep them coming back for more!

Where can you find gamification in your day-to-day life?

The purpose of gamification is to make products or activities more fun by having reward systems and competition (either with yourself or others). For this reason, activities which are challenging and/or avoided become more appealing when gamified, such as tasks like exercise, spending money, or cleaning.

Here are some examples of…

Gamified Apps 

Apple Watch

Similar to Fitbit, Apple Watch allows you to set fitness and health goals and visualises then in ‘rings’ on your watch face, encouraging you to ‘close your rings’ each day. This has the visual reward of watching your rings close, but also offers progress tracking over time. Plus, you can track your friends’ rings too, inciting both competition and encouragement!

Some office-based companies have even set their employees goals to close rings or hit a certain number of steps a day to get rewards. We’re not sure how we feel about this, but a healthier workforce is shown to be a happier one.

Apple Health Rings

Learning and productivity


Learning a language is far from easy and is almost impossible without consistent practice. Duolingo keeps users engaged by tracking a ‘streak’ (the number of days you have used Duolingo continuously), offering experience points (XP), and allowing you to compare progress with friends and climb global leaderboards.

If you had a streak of 364 days, I can pretty much guarantee you’re logging onto that app to complete a full year of learning! 

Duolingo Streak Stats

Loyalty cards

With the cost of living affecting us all, grocery shopping might not be the highlight of your week. However, with loyalty cards, shoppers can earn points towards future purchases, get special offers, and receive personalised deals. If you’re doing your weekly shop at any of these, you might want to sign up to their loyalty schemes:

For anyone that’s seen the price of something, then the loyalty card price, getting these cards/apps is a no-brainer.

Inspired by Hasbro's Monopoly, McDonalds Monopoly offers customers the chance to win prizes through collecting coupons. Some stickers have properties you can build up to win prizes, and some are ‘instant win’, allowing customers to go straight up to the counter to claim free food or drink. The gamification of McDonalds Monopoly has been a huge marketing campaign, building excitement and competition, increasing customers.

Tesco Clubcard App


Waze is a traffic navigation app that allows you to add real-time updates, confirm disruption, and help support the app have accurate information. You win badges for reports, replies, and other contributions, and Waze also gives each driver a little Waze car icon, adding an element of interactivity. Being able to see other ‘Wazers’ alongside your own on the map may also lead to safer driving, as it encourages empathy and social responsibility.

Off-app gamification

Flight Club

Flight Club is the creator of ‘social darts’, were friends, family, and colleagues can compete in a range of darts games, all captured on a camera, so you can watch video replays of the highlights of your visit and share on socials.

Flight Club has cemented itself in the adult entertainment sector by offering a place to play darts that appeals to all standards, where you can also grab yourself a pint and burger for fuel. Why does it work so well? It’s not just darts! It includes a range of different games and points scoring systems, meaning even the worst player can often ‘kill’ off any competition with one simple throw.

The Rugged Team's Flight Club Story

Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel

Taking place between 11th and 22nd March 2024, Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel is a school initiative which inspires pupils to make active journeys to school through walking, wheeling, cycling, or skating, to improve health and air quality. Teachers and pupils log their efforts, and the website has a live journey counter and a leaderboard to keep children engaged.

Gamification in a nutshell

Simply put, the ability to track, compare, and compete is what makes gamification engaging, exciting, and motivational. Gamified apps, products, and activities are more likely to achieve repeated customers, better results, and consistent use


Freedom Gaming CyberChase Scoreboard

That’s why every Rugged Interactive product has been designed around the concept of gamification. We want to make physical activity fun, social, and compelling through scoring, leaderboards, and competition!

Whether it’s keeping kids active in schools, diversifying your indoor adventure park, or engaging patients in rehabilitation, Rugged has a gamification solution that keeps users engaged and coming back for more

Contact sales@rugged-interactive.com for more information.


By Grace Cupper, Marketing Project Lead.



¹ https://publicdomainreview.org/essay/progress-in-play-board-games-and-the-meaning-of-history/

² https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8992377/







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