The current term cunningly implements its own strategy: it conveys trivialisation to the uninitiated, conveniently excluding the ignorant and preserving its power for the enlightened few

‘Maintainable motivation’ is a term containing two words rather than one, but perhaps it more effectively exposes and expresses the intention of the designer to address a need often felt by both the purveyor and consumer: persistent engagement.

To gamify something is to introduce the potential for maintainable motivation.

The gamified thing, feature, or process does not need to be a game or even be part of a game, but if the intention is to pursue maintainable motivation (as opposed to conventional ‘single-action’ motivation such as consumption) then various rules have to be followed which recognise the way that the relevant thing, feature or process can be part of a ‘nanoculture’, a social environment created for the primary purpose of engaging all those who interact with that gamified thing, feature or process on an on-going basis rather than a one-off basis.

The ‘science’ of maintainable motivation extends far beyond games and gamification, because it includes all aspects of persistent engagement, even when the initial intention was ‘single-action’. For instance, a sales message might be a ‘one-off’ opportunity to buy something (for instance, selling your car: ‘perfect condition, one careful owner’) but it might just as easily be sold from a dealership which will want you to only ever buy cars from them for the rest of your life.

Everything they ever do, every message they ever use, every car they ever sell, is intended to be part of a ‘maintainable motivation’ for prospective purchasers. Where does ‘traditional customer service’ end and gamification begin? How do you introduce the latter without unintentionally disrupting (or at least distracting yourself from optimising) the former?

These kinds of questions show that the pursuit of ‘persistent engagement’ is a goal which extends to both gamified and non-gamified communication, and that the tools for achieving it are what make maintainable motivation a wider topic of study than either gamification or any other form of promotion.