Gamification in AR

Gamification in webAR experiences on smartphones can enrich and enhance the user experience in everything from museum guides and e-learning experiences to interactive ads and marketing.


Gamification has been around for decades, and with the rise of augmented reality it is set to have a renaissance when designing and implementing engaging experiences.

Although gamification is far from new, some people may be in doubt as to what it really means. And to be fair, not everyone entirely agrees on the exact meaning, so I’ll start with the Merriam-Webster definition, on which I think everyone can agree. It is:

the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation

The way we use gamification at Hololink, is that we strategically add game elements into non-game contexts, to enhance engagement and try to get the end-user to have fun while engaging with the content.

We create augmented reality experiences for marketing, learning, onboarding and tourism, and while AR in itself offers a lot of engagement, adding elements such as achievements, goals, badges or mini-games can add additional engagement opportunities.

In this article, we explore some of the strategies that can be used in gamification to enhance webAR experiences on smartphones, serving both educational and promotional purposes. 

We also touch upon the importance of tailoring these experiences to user demographics.

The strategies of Gamification in AR

Below are some of the most common strategies that are used to gamify experiences.

The 6 main gamification strategies

1. User Engagement

User engagement lies at the heart of successful gamification. It involves capturing and maintaining users’ interest, motivating them to participate actively. Here are some strategies for enhancing user engagement:

  • Challenges and Quests: Create exciting challenges or quests that users can complete. These can be related to software tasks, learning objectives, or community participation.
  • Leaderboards: Display rankings to foster healthy competition among users. Leaderboards encourage engagement by allowing users to compare their progress with others.
  • Badges and Achievements: Reward users with badges or achievements for specific accomplishments. These visual cues provide a sense of accomplishment and motivate continued participation.

2. Rewards

Rewards play a pivotal role in gamification. They reinforce positive behaviors and encourage users to stay engaged. Consider the following reward mechanisms:

  • Virtual Currency: Introduce a virtual currency (e.g., points, coins) that users earn by completing tasks. Users can then redeem these for in-app rewards or privileges.
  • Virtual Badges: Reward users with a badge for completing certain tasks, letting them see and remember what they’ve done so far. Showing a gallery of badges, with uncompleted badges in black and white is a popular way of making users want to do more.
  • Unlockable Content: Gradually unlock new features, levels, or content as users progress. This creates anticipation and encourages sustained engagement.
  • Real-world Incentives: Link gamified actions to tangible rewards outside the app. For example, users who achieve certain milestones could receive discounts or merchandise.

3. Gradual Achievement and Progress Tracking

Users appreciate seeing their progress. Implement the following features to enhance gradual achievement:

  • Progress Bars: Display progress bars or completion percentages for tasks or goals. Users find satisfaction in watching their progress grow.
  • Leveling Up: Divide the user journey into levels. As users accomplish tasks, they advance to higher levels, unlocking additional features or challenges.

4. Motivational Factors

Understanding what motivates users is crucial. Consider the following motivational strategies:

  • Autonomy: Allow users to make choices within the gamified experience. Autonomy fosters a sense of control and ownership.
  • Relatedness: Create social interactions within the app. Users often feel more motivated when they connect with others.
  • Competence: Design challenges that match users’ skill levels. Too easy, and they lose interest; too difficult, and they become frustrated.

5. Incorporating Learning

Gamification can enhance learning experiences. Consider the following approaches:

  • Quizzes and Knowledge Checks: Integrate quizzes or mini-games related to software concepts. Users learn while having fun.
  • Tutorials: Provide interactive tutorials that guide users through features. Learning becomes an integral part of the gamified journey.

6. Challenging the User

To maintain interest, gamification must present meaningful challenges. i.e.:

  • Dynamic Difficulty: Adjust the difficulty level based on user performance. Keep the challenge engaging without overwhelming users.
  • Timed Challenges: Set time-bound tasks or competitions. Users strive to beat the clock, adding excitement.

The Role of User Demographics

But before you start planning your gamified experience, remember to take into account the demographics of your intended users. Understanding your users is pivotal. It informs the design of gamified experiences and helps you decide which strategies are the right fit for your intended users. Consider:

  • Age Group: Different age groups respond differently to gamification. Younger users may prefer competitive leaderboards, while older users might appreciate gradual achievements. Or maybe it’s the other way round with the people you are catering to.
  • Proficiency Level: Users’ familiarity with technology impacts their engagement. Novices may benefit from tutorials, while experts seek advanced challenges.
  • Cultural Context: Cultural nuances influence user preferences. Adapt gamification elements to align with cultural norms.
  • Geographic location: Think about whether to use things like GPS data in locations where GPS signals may be weak or disturbed by high buildings. Also consider whether you are creating something for a location that may have low mobile bandwidth, which may be a reason to keep things simple so that less loading of data back and forth is necessary.

By understanding your users and strategically implementing gamification elements, you can create engaging software experiences that resonate with your audience, whoever and wherever they are.


Gamification in webAR experiences on smartphones can enrich and enhance the user experience in everything from museum guides and e-learning experiences to interactive ads and marketing.

There are a multitude of possibilities that can be used when gamifying an experience, and it is important to choose which ones are the best fit for what you are creating, instead of just throwing them all in. Knowing your audience is paramount when choosing which strategies to use. 

By understanding user demographics and thoughtfully implementing gamification strategies, we can create memorable and effective AR journeys that educate and engage users or promote a brand.

Jens, PM @ Hololink

Gamification in webAR experiences on smartphones can enrich and enhance the user experience in everything from museum guides and e-learning experiences to interactive ads and marketing.


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