Gamification of Government



Governments have started applying game mechanics to get employees and citizens involved. Internally, gamification can offer revitalization in government, “People can’t be expected to do the same thing every day, day-in day-out for 20 years with the same level of enthusiasm." “Many people who go into government start off with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, but the lethargy of government can become demotivating. Gamification is very good at bringing those concepts of motivation and engagement back to people who may have lost connection with their job. If government agencies want to attract a young, change-driven generation, they need to utilize gamification in order to keep the work interesting.[1] Gamification also offers the chance to bring real-world situations to life in a controlled environment.

How to Gamify

Depending on the design, one or more of the following can be done.

  • Add points to tasks that involve engaging with content.
  • Define badges/rewards to be given out after a criteria is met.
  • Create a Leaderboard to show top performers.
  • Completion of challenges can be tied to unlocking higher levels.


Idea Street

James Gardner, former chief technology officer of the U.K's Department for Work and Pensions started Idea Street in late 2009. Idea Street was created as a market where employees could suggest ideas for changes in the workplace, big and small. Idea Street puts ideas out in the open, so that other people within an organization can vote and comment on the suggestions of others. In this way ideas can be refined by the collective expertise within the community and the most promising suggestions can be brought to the attention of relevant decision makers. On top of that was a system of game mechanics that encouraged participation. The agency wasn’t allowed to pay employees extra for winning or participating in the idea market, but it didn’t need to.[1] A leaderboard showed who was doing well on Idea Street, giving engaged employees recognition for their accomplishments. Idea Street was a success, as of 2010, they had approximately 4500 users who generated 1400 ideas. [2]

In one project, a DWP call center employee submitted and developed an idea for creating internal marketing material for the DWP using a network of talented employees already onboard. The idea was adopted, and the employee who submitted and shepherded the idea through the process was given the opportunity in the office of the head of the DWP, the permanent secretary. [1]  

Employees enjoyed having an engaging environment where they can participate in idea development, and the increased recognition. 


UNESCO Bangkok, the regional bureau of education in Asia Pacific, launched a mobile application to teach citizens real-life lessons on disaster safety and survival.[3] Each level teaches an important lesson related to flood preparedness. Players must overcome challenges by choosing the safest course of action, with pop-up boxes alerting them to common hazards and other information related to floods. The cartoon-like design and inclusion of mini-puzzles increase the game’s appeal to young gamers. [3]

“UNESCO Bangkok acknowledges the tremendous potential gamification has in delivering a meaningful education experience to learners in the region, whether they come from formal, non-formal or informal backgrounds.” [3]


In a rather controversial matter, the National Security Administration gamified spying on its international surveillance program, XKeyscore (XKS). Analysts can earn points and unlock achievements for performing tasks in XKS, people are willing to try new things within the tool. One of the main motivators for analysts are bragging rights for unlocking points and achievements.[4] The training units in Hesse were apparently successful, European Cryptologic Center analysts had achieved the "highest average of skilz points" compared with all other NSA departments participating in the training program.[5]

Department of Defense

The Department of Defense leveraged gamification for training and education. Procurement Fraud Indicators Game developed in DAU teaches employees how to spot fraud. In this particular game, each player collects information about a fraud being investigated, and then moves to an interrogation room to question a suspect. Finally, the player chooses from three theories regarding the fraud, and is rewarded if correct. 


1. Local Governments Use Gaming Principles to get Citizens Involved-

2. Department for Work and Pensions Case Study-

3. UNESCO Uses Gamification to Teach Kids Disaster Safety-

4. How NSA Gamified Spying With Skilz Points-