The Five Types of Gamified Experiences

When starting to discover gamification it is important to have an understanding of what gamification is, and what it isn’t, and how it fits in with the other gamelike experiences we encounter in life.

Is Gamification the same as Serious Games? Are Simulations actual Games?

To try to make the distinctions between gamified experiences a little more clear, I have put together a chart which show the essential differences and where each one sits in relation to the others:

Gamification TIme: Gamification and gamified experiences



To break this down further, I will briefly go through each type of gamified experience:


On the chart, Games are at the bottom left. They use elements of gameplay such as rules and scoring and are created primarily for entertainment purposes. There is no purpose beyond playing the game itself.

Serious Games

This type of Game can use elements such as rules and scores but will apply to or model a purposeful real-world situation or outcome, such as learning. Many educational and training games fall under this category.


Many Simulations look very much like video games but they have purpose beyond that of entertainment and, like Serious Games, are typically applied to or model real-world experiences such as learning to fly an aircraft or even practicing surgical procedures.


Gamification does not use gameplay and has a purpose beyond entertainment. It is

The use of game elements in non-game situations to create motivating and engaging real-life experiences”.

Gameful Design

This uses elements of design from games but does not use gameplay and is not designed for entertainment. It is mainly for an aesthetic purpose and to attract and engage users by providing a fun experience. An example would be using video game graphics in a website design.


Of course, the reality is that this a loose model and open to some interpretation. You will see overlaps, leaps and merges of each of the gamified experience types quite often. Despite this, I feel that it is best to at least set of some form of framework which may be applied in the majority of cases.

For the rest, well… play around with them..!


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