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Are you being gamified by your favourite casino?

You’re probably – if you’re reading this – you probably enjoy playing games at your favourite casino sites, but is your favourite casino site playing with you?

The answer is probably yes, and if you’ve heard the term gamification, this is how they are doing it.

Whether or not you accept this as just another marketing trick or you think it’s something a bit more sinister than that is up to you, but you’ll be hard pushed to find a site that doesn’t use gamification in some form or another.

What is gamification?

Gamification has been around for a long time, in fact, it’s been used as a sales and marketing principle – and other things – from long before it was named and systemised as it is today.

Simply, it means that game elements (it could be the design, it could be a competitive element) are used in a context that isn’t itself a game.

If you have kids, you have probably used gamification to encourage them to learn or behave in a certain way. If you’ve got a pet you’ve probably used gamification on them to monitor or modify their behaviour.

If you’ve been anywhere near a business in the 2010s or 20202s you’ve probably seen gamification and probably taken part in it.

Rewards: how gamification works in practice

The most obviously gamified elements on a casino site are collections.

Collecting points or prizes, perhaps that add up to trophies or other prizes, is one of the commonest gamification processes in the business world. Almost everyone does it: your local coffee shop might put a stamp on a card and reward you with a free drink when you fill it, for example.

In the casino world, it’s most often delivered via a loyalty scheme.

Loyalty schemes are common in almost all businesses and work very simply: the more you spend, the more rewards you will receive. And, so, the thinking goes, the more you will spend.

Cyber gaming is gamification on steroids

While a coffee shop relying on a card to play games with you is pretty low-tech, online businesses have a natural advantage in the gamification world: they are in the perfect place for game players, and have a super-adaptable set of tools with which to send messages to their consumers and receive messages from them.

This can be fairly obvious: some sort of skill challenge to open up a page on a website for example, like a quiz question.

Or it can be very sophisticated. For example, companies that sell running shoes might now provide their customers with access to an app or website to log their runs, and further gamify the experience of training. There is no immediate gain for the consumer in this example, but the company links themselves to activity in their mind and can collect data and advertise new products to them in an environment that the company controls.

You can’t even post on a social media site these days without being involved in a game. Want to tell the readers of r/youredumb that they’re dumb on Reddit? Well, you need an account, and you can earn karma points by posting, and you need to earn enough points to post in the thread, and you might win a trophy if you give helpful answers to people, and so on and so on and so on.

Gamification in your online gaming space

You will be gamified at the casino site you use.

It might be simple almost every site has a loyalty scheme, awarding trophies and prizes, and this is gamification.

It might be complex some sites have extensively developed virtual universes in which players exist and through which they move, complete with characters and avatars.

Tournament slots play is a form of gamification.

Bonuses awarded via a game of chance is gamification.

Gamification and decision making

The legendary US comedian, Bill Hicks, once used to do a routine about advertising and marketing. I won’t quote it – because articles get taken down if they do – but it was a, shall we say, strong condemnation of the practices of advertising and marketing and I highly recommend that you look it up.

This stuff is a reality in the world we live in. So it’s in our interests to understand it and what it is doing to us.

The first thing to understand is that all of it serves the interests of the people who produce it. The interest of any business in the current system of capitalism is to maximise the profits it makes.

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That is the purpose of all marketing. This includes gamifying any process.

Anything that has a fun, gaming element added to it has had that element added because the designers believe that it will make you do more of it.

A loyalty scheme rewards loyalty, yes, but that loyalty is expressed in spending, which in gambling means wagers, more of which are lost than won, which means players spending more time and more money on a site.

It’s important to be aware of our spending when we gamble, and it’s important to make decisions based on what is good for us.

A world where there is no marketing seems to be a distant dream at the moment, so we just have to accept that it’s there.

This stuff is used because it is effective. I don’t think there’s any way to completely short-circuit marketing, which works on pretty base levels in our brain – hence the heavy use of sexualised imagery, for example, in marketing. However, the more aware of it you are, the more likely you are to be able to think around it and to make good decisions based on what is good for you, and that mean not spending money because you think it will take you up to the next level of a loyalty scheme.

Gamification is here to stay, but make sure you’re aware of the games you’re playing at the end of it – the slots or live casino games that will charge you a fee.