What is “gameful”?

What is “gameful”?
Published: Jun, 12 2024
2 mins read
What is “gameful”?

What is Gameful?

We invented the word gameful! It means to have the spirit, or mindset, of a gamer: someone who is optimistic, curious, motivated, and always up for a tough challenge. It’s like the word “playful” — but gamier!

Gameful games are games that have a positive impact on our real lives, or on the real world. They’re games that make us:

  • happier
  • smarter
  • stronger
  • healthier
  • more collaborative
  • more creative
  • better connected to our friends and family
  • more resilient
  • better problem-solvers

and better at WHATEVER we love to do when we’re not playing games.

We propose recognizing gameful games in four categories:

  • Life-changing: a major positive personal impact, for people who play the game
  • Reality-changing: positive impact on a space, group, organization, neighborhood, or other community
  • Game-changing: positive transformation of a process, tradition or institution
  • World-changing: positive impact on a global challenge

We rate Gameful games according to four criteria:

  • Positive Emotion & Engagement: increasing the positive emotions, happiness, health and well-being of players
  • Relationships: building positive relationships with friends, family, colleagues, neighbors
  • Meaning: connecting players to something bigger than themselves: a purpose, a mission, a collective goal or endeavor
  • Accomplishment: giving players opportunities to do something that matters, to achieve in their daily lives

These categories are called “PERMA” for short, and they’re derived by the scientific research on “flourishing” led by Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center.
What kind of games count as ‘gameful’?

As long as the project has a stated goal of making our real lives, or the real world, better — and not just to entertain us — then ANY kind of game counts: computer games, videogames, mobile games and alternate reality games; commercial games and indie games; serious games and art games; board games and iPad games; crowdsourcing and innovation games; street games and new sports; education games and activist games; health games and productivity games; and just about any other kind of game you might think of!

Popular categories at gameful.org:

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