Wiki tells us that Religion is “a collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values”. In simpler terms, religion is the road to god. Visually, between man and god, there is religion!
But how exactly did religion become such a deep part of our lives? Religion exists in all corners of the world, every civilization has its religion, wars have been fought over religion! One can’t over emphasis the role that region has played in human history. So religion is not only the road to god but also the driving force that makes man take the road to god.
Wiki tells us that Gamification is “the use of game design elements, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts”. In simpler terms its use of attributes such as points, levels, badges, leaderboard etc that makes games powerful to real life situation in order to get results that is good for humanity (or for a company that is attempting gamification) wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification
My question is “Is religion using GAMIFICATION as a means to achieve its objective of getting man to god?” Of course, the blog doesn’t intent to question any particular religion nor question existence of god, or question the path. The blog merely attempts to question the ways religion has chosen to get man to walk the path. Since Gamification is new concept to most, I would present concepts of gamification and provide similar concept adopted by religions.
Drawing from the definition, Game elements are vital to gamification. Lets see how religion uses game elements!
Points: We all understand the way points motivate us in games. When we play game the right way, we earn points. When we play the game the wrong way, we loose points. The nearest thing in religion is perhaps, SIN or Paap (Hindi) , Punya (English doesn’t have a word for punya – http://tiny.cc/z0vmkw) When a person does things as per the religion, he earns Punya. However when he does against religion, he incurs sins/Paap.
Reward: Rewards are provided to players when they achieve the goal of the game. How are men rewarded for following religion? Perhaps concept of achieving heaven or hell are great rewards/punishment.
Badges: Online games are popular for providing badges when some success criteria is met during the game. Gamified websites too provide badges. So does religion and religious structure have badges? Wish you could help me on how religion uses badges to honour/provide special status using the comment box under this blog or by clicking comment text under the heading!
Purpose of any game is to get people to play AND get people to keep playing! Purpose of religion too is to get people to become religious AND keep people religious. Games are designed in a way to achieve both the objectives. This is done by providing three stages: On boarding, Scaffolding, and Mastery. In on boarding stage, the game could provide easy steps for the player to understand the game. This could be done by providing narration or other ways. Then scaffolding stage helps person get to different levels without loosing interest. Finally, games provide difficult challenges to ensure the player has room for honing his skills to levels of mastery. Religion too in several ways achieve goal in similar ways. It first provides easy baby steps which is followed by scaffolding and finally mastery! Games have maximum difficulty levels and therefore beyond a point they loose out in interest levels. However religion doesn’t have the max level and thus has potential to engage for ever.
Essentially, gamification is all about keeping the players in the middle and ensuring people have a great experience and provide positive outcome to society. If religion has used principles of gamification then its for benefit of the people who are kept in the middle and provide right experience.