Gamification in the Military

This post was first published on February 9th, 2015 on LinkedIn.

Interestingly, we can see many elements of Gamification in the military:

Game Elements

Beyond the literal application of Missions to military operations, for the purpose of gamification, we can view many military schools as missions or quests. They are finite in length, with clear objectives. For example Basic Training will be 8-12 weeks (varied between services, but fixed for an individual). Within these weeks, certain objectives must be completed to proceed; passing score on the Physical Fitness Evaluation, passing Marksmanship Score, and completion of the training generally. This mission has checkpoints: in my experience in the Army (’03), this was the advancement of the platoon through the red, white, and blue phases, each will specific goals and rewards. These are roughly time checkpoints, but if the group does not meet certain criteria, this phase advancement can (and is) delayed until those are met.


The military has many forms of recognition that can be identified through the lens of gamification. The most evident to those outside of the military are military awards/medals. For my experience in the Army, this included the Army Service Ribbon and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (the “Thanks for Joining” achievements), the Physical Fitness Badge or Marksmanship awards (“High Score”), or the Combat Action Badge (“Get Shot at for the First Time”).

Some missions give different awards at different levels. Again in my experience, completing a partial deployment at E-4 or below would merit an Army Achievement Medal, while a full deployment at E-6 and below would award an Army Commendation Medal. Above E-6 would likely be a Bronze Star. In addition, everyone would earn a campaign medal, and overseas service ribbon.

Many of the above forms of recognition also grant promotion points, which can be used for promotion. When the promotion lists are published, these can act as leaderboards (so to speak), where only persons above the point threshold (always 798 in my MOS) would be listed.


Rewards in the military are varied; promotions, and thus pay, are extrinsic while awards/medals/ribbons are intrinsic. There are many incentives to advancing in the military as well. Promotions increase dodge chance when faced with tasks, can grant charisma among officers, and open up prestige classes and skill trees.


A complete example of gamification in the military would be going to a language school. There are checkpoints and goals to reach during the course (Elements), completion of the course grants new skills, awards, or titles (Recognition), and when officially granted the language, there is often an increase in pay and possibly assignment (Rewards).

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