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History of Gamification & Its Journey From 2700 BC To the 21st Century

Home / Blog / History of Gamification & Its Journey From 2700 BC To the 21st Century

A game is a system made up of a set of rules, obstacles, and choices, in which the player needs to learn from his mistakes to be successful. Given that the game can manifest itself in a meeting environment that favors social and cultural factors, the adoption of game structures in different environments can make a tedious activity more attractive. 

This article deals with the history of the use of games and the origins of gamification.

The evolution of games and, above all, the way of playing, changed radically with the emergence and consolidation of the video game industry from the 1980s onwards. The marketing world quickly captured the influence that the playful experience had on modification behavior. Soon, it adopted elements and dynamics of video games to attract and retain customers with notable success. In this sense, gamification can be related to the commercial strategy of offering gifts, accumulating coupons and points, etc. It is commonly used by countless companies to sell their products.

Although the origin of gamification is located in the business sector, its evolution was diverted to other areas.

We have created a timeline that will give you a better perspective on how gamification came to be, as we know today.

1- Before 2700 BC
ROYAL GAME OF UR OR GAME OF LIFE
Mesopotamia

This is one of the oldest games in the world, and its origins can be traced back to the Sumerian city of Ur. 

The royal game of Ur was a favorite of the Sumerian upper classes.

It was a game where two players ran a race, competing to reach the goal on the board with their chips. Each player had seven white or black pieces, and three pyramid dice were used. The first player to go all twenty squares was declared the winner.

This game is considered the ancestor of the Backgammon family games.

2- 2650 BC
SENET
Egypt

Senet was a very popular game in ancient Egypt. Like the game of Ur, Senet was a kind of race on a board in which the player who was the fastest to draw the pieces on the board won.

Its popularity is well known because a large number of them have been found in the tombs of both nobles and pharaohs. Tutankhamun requested to be buried with four of these games to continue having fun in eternity.

3- XV CENTURY
CHESS
Europe

As we know it today, chess emerged in Europe during the 15th century, which is also known as the Middle Age. Although its origin comes from Asia, chess was mostly popular due to the massive popularity it garnered in the regions of Europe and the Soviet Union (now Russia). It is the evolution of the Persian game chaturanga, which was played in India during the 6th century. Chess was used during the Middle Ages as a way to devise strategies that would later be taken to the real battlefield.

This game is considered to be one of the most difficult to master since it has 6400 possible moves. Masters at the game require so much concentration and mental ability that it has been classified as a sport, getting recognized in world championships and annual chess Olympiads.

4- TWENTIETH CENTURY
1979
MUD1 (Multi-User Dungeon)
University of Essex, England.

This multi-user or multi-player game was created by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle, professors at the University of Essex. With this game, they wanted their students to get motivated and “hooked” to learn the classes’ contents. In a way, it was one of the beginnings of gamification as we know it today.

They were created in the early stages of computer development, in which text was used to manage programs. They evolved over time to create games with more attractive visual interfaces called MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game).

5- XX CENTURY- 80’s
RECREATIONAL GAMES

Recreational games were born in the 80s showing children and young people a new way to have fun. Pacman, Tetris, Arkanoid were some of the most famous ones at that time. The games brought a new dynamic into play, which was to award users for every successful division, round or level. The rewards were either points or tickets, which the user would later redeem for a prize. 

This was the time when experts really started to form the core disciplines of gamification and game mechanics. 

Later, until the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, these games evolved into well-known individual consoles. This gave birth to the ever-popular PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles. With the evolution of the Internet and computers, there was a boom in creating games for PC and video consoles.

6- XX CENTURY- 90’s – 02
2002
GAMIFICATION

In 2002, a British-born computer programmer and investigative writer, best known as the creator of the 1984 game Freak, coined the term gamification. Until 2010, the relatively unknown term (gamification) became popular among computer programmers and marketing experts.

Gamification is a series of strategies used to motivate and entertain groups of people so that they feel that they “live” in a gaming environment within a context that is not conventionally linked to play. For example, turn the history class into a game where the students are the protagonists and must pass a series of phases to get points.

7- XXI CENTURY
2010 – Current
MODERN GAMIFICATION

Modern technology is helping gamification take its course to every facet of the industry that involves field training. From education to the medical industry, game mechanics help people get the motivation they need to learn and move forward.

myCred, is an intelligent points and rewards system, is helping millions gamify their WordPress website using different add-ons that range from e-commerce to store gateways. Website owners can introduce game mechanics and reward their users for their actions, which in terms increases engagement.

It is currently free on WordPress and has 50+ add-ons to offer on its official store.

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