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Gamification is, by definition, the creation of game-like experiences in situations not related to games. Given that its definition labels it as a strategy for non-gaming contexts, where exactly does gamification sit in the context of gambling – an industry that has games at its core?
It turns out that the beauty of playing some types of games is that you can keep adding layers to the entertainment. And in the case of iGaming, we can easily gamify the experience by capitalizing on bonuses.

A structure for reward gamification

Gamification is a relatively new term, created to label and structure something that has been happening for a very long time. In the last decade, boosted by the rise of social media and data analysis, a more scientific approach to gamification is emerging, borrowing a lot from game design. It’s still a fragmented field, with heterogeneous concepts and frameworks, yet it has great applicability, especially in business contexts.

A well-known and practical gamification framework includes Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics or MDA, an analysis tool coming from game design. It can easily be applied to increase the appeal of gambling bonuses, which in themselves are an essential tool for attracting, retaining and reactivating players.

The mechanics consist of the set-up, rules and progression criteria of your bonus campaign, and they lay out and organise the actions a player should do in order to receive a certain reward – be it a free spin, a free gamble, or enter a competition such as a tournament. In our case, the “game designers” can be the operators, and they may also choose to enlist platforms specialised in gamification.

A thing to remember is that players need different things according to the stage they are at: someone who just registered on your casino might need a great onboarding experience, while an experienced player could enjoy the VIP experience. This takes us back to the fact that customer segmentation is among the first things to take care of before diving into any type of bonus strategies. You first need to know who you are creating the experience for, and how you can identify and leverage high-value players.

Dynamics refer to variables such as context, choices, constraints, competition and chance – and these can vary a lot depending on the type of gambling experience the player has. For instance, P2P games like poker are by nature a competition between players, whether cash games or tournament format, whereas playing slots or placing sports bets leads to more individual competitive dynamics. Unless, of course, a tournament layer is added on top to promote friendly competition in your casino.

Aesthetics has to do with emotions – Hunicke, LeBlanc and Zubek identify eight of them.  From this list, in iGaming, the focus should be on sensation (for instance, in-game musical and visual backgrounds), challenge and discovery. For instance, in a tournament, the way the experience is presented to the players will certainly have a lot to do with how much it manages to immerse them into the competition.

The beauty of gamification is that in it you can always find something that works for your purposes and apply it. It’s also what makes it an asset in the iGaming world, be it in casino or sports betting, and an even more powerful tool when coupled with bonuses.

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