Create an App Which Will Engage Users for Hours: Storytelling and Gamification in Mobile Apps

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Create an App Which Will Engage Users for Hours: Storytelling and Gamification in Mobile Apps

If you're aiming for high user engagement, try incorporating gamification into your app. Here are a few examples of mobile apps using gamification and storytelling.

· Mobile Zone ·
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The mobile game market grows rapidly, and it earned $40.6B in 2016 – the equivalent of global box office sales for the year. It is expected that this trend will stay with us for a very long time, as the revenue of mobile games increased 14% year over year, largely due to Android, which saw a 32% uptick in revenue.

Game App Market

No wonder more and more mobile apps have gamification and storytelling features, as they often guarantee high user engagement. Thanks to them, you can, for example, change your everyday running into surviving the zombie apocalypse! Application ideas with such features are endless – they can help you with changing your everyday habits, increasing your productivity, or even making your children excited to do their chores.

What Exactly Are Gamification & Storytelling?

Storytelling is all about writing an extraordinary, engaging adventure and presenting it to your users. Just like in books, games, or movies – in mobile apps, implementing that component is possible as well. With your app, you can take your users far, far away and tell them a story they won’t be able to get away from until they know the end! As the trend shows, games where the cornerstone is an interesting story (for example, The Walking Dead, Life Is Strange, or Heavy Rain) gain a spectacular success worldwide, it is definitely worth considering writing an interesting scenario for your mobile app.

On the other hand, gamification is, as the definition by J.J. Rosen says, "easy-to-use web- and mobile-based learning platforms (…) [that] take the boredom out of long training sessions by gamifying the entire process. A training manual is replaced by an interactive game that allows participants to win awards and be acknowledged."

One of the first and best-known learning platforms with gamification features was Duolingo – an app whose purpose was to teach foreign languages. By gaining experience and collecting achievements and prizes, you were able to upgrade your language skills significantly, simultaneously feeling excited to unlock a new app level. But gamification goes further than just learning nowadays! And it’s definitely not only for children, as it was initially perceived.

Now let’s move along from theory to practice. Check out these examples of six mobile apps using storytelling and gamification features in the best possible way.

1. Zombies Run!

User engagement type: storytelling mixed with gamification – you not only get an opportunity to collect items and raise your experience while running, but are also immersed in an apocalyptic world thanks to a fascinating and constantly developing story.

It is the most engaging and innovative sports app you have ever seen, as it throws you in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. In the app, you are one of the few survivors on Earth, living in a small place called Abel Township. Your job is to collect necessary supplies to ensure your comrades' survival. And how do you collect those items? By running!

In your earphones, you will be hearing a radio transmission alternating with your own music, where you will get the newest information considering the situation on the battlefield. The app has  a very expanded story, as the new seasons of the plot are appearing constantly. And watch out for zombie chases. Once in a while, you will hear a distant noise of zombies approaching you, and if you do not want to loose your precious items – it’s time for a RUN!

2. ChoreMonster

User engagement type: gamification – changing children chores into tasks they need to fulfill, with an award selected by their parents awaiting them if they succeed.

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Do you have problems with encouraging your kids to make their beds or water the plants? This app may be a true salvation for you! ChoreMonster's main goal is to motivate kids to do their everyday duties, and it achieves this by gamifying the experience for both parties – parents and their children.

After completing a chore, the child is rewarded with a fun and friendly screen that lets them know they earned points that can be redeemed for parent-selected rewards such as gift cards or an ice cream outing. Such a pity that it hadn’t been invented when we were children, right?

3. SuperBetter

User engagement type: gamification through collecting experience points, completing quests, and creating your own tasks to fulfill.

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You want to start a healthy lifestyle, but your motivation holds out for only a few weeks? This app can help you in becoming a super and better self!

SuperBetter is a free game, and once you sign up, you can choose a goal you want to work towards and add “quests” to your account that you can complete achieving a healthier self. When you manage to complete your quests, you’ll earn points in different character areas, like mental, emotional, social, and physical resilience.

You can also create your own goals and quests or choose a “power pack,” a bundle of quests, activities, and “bad guys” (or things that stand in your way) that will help you get started.

4. Habitica: Gamify Your Tasks

User engagement type: gamification through changing your habits into a role-playing game where you gain experience points, complete quests, and advance to the next level.


Habitica started as the HabitRPG web app, but thanks to a huge success on Kickstarter, it’s mobile version also appeared. Now it has more than 500 thousand downloads in the Google Play Store!

In Habitica, you can create a personalized avatar and feel like a true adventurer doing quests in your real life! At first sight, it is another motivational app, but thanks to an extraordinary design which imitates old RPG indie games, it is much more exciting to use than others.

Enthusiastic user feedback states clearly that it can really help you with changing your everyday habits! And motivates you to do so by giving you experience points for every task fulfilled, which leads you to level up. You can even assign quests, to-dos, and tasks to your friends! Maybe, one day, companies will use it to manage employees' work? That would be fun!

5. Fitocracy

User engagement type: gamification through enabling you to challenge your friends on duels where you are gaining or losing experience points and gaining them in a more traditional way of completing various sports quests.

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You are sick of your friends bragging themselves about how much faster, stronger, and better they are than you? Challenge them to a true fitness duel!

Fitocracy is a fitness app developed in an MMORPG style – you collect experience points and badges for your every sporting achievement. And as I mentioned before, it has one especially fun function – challenging your friends to true fitness combat.

Fitocracy has been chosen an App of the Year by Men’s Journal and won Mashable’s Innovation Index for Health & Fitness. There is also a strong sports community gathered around the app to encourage users even more in changing their life to be more active. Honestly, if this app won’t get you off your couch, nothing can!

6. Covet Fashion

User engagement type: gamification through creating your own character, completing challenges and earning virtual (and sometimes real-life!) prizes.

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Gamification can be also implemented in m-commerce apps – the perfect example is Covet Fashion. For users, it’s an engaging app where you create your own avatar and dress them up in the newest and most desirable clothes. You can also take part in a “fashion duels” where other members of the app community choose which Covet Fashion user stylization is better.

From the developer perspective – it’s a great opportunity to advertise designers' work and even sell real-life clothes, that your users “wear” virtually. It’s a perfect win-win situation for everyone.

The app has more than 10 million downloads in the Google Play store and has become a huge success worldwide.


As you can see, gamification can change almost every mobile app into something extraordinary, beginning with letting you sink into a world of the zombie apocalypse when you simply run (Zombie Run), to changing dull and boring everyday duties into a mission (Chore Monster).

Cleverly used, gamification can be your app’s biggest asset, transforming your ordinary users to engaged and simply having a lot of fun players. Everybody has a small piece of a warrior in themselves, willing to collect points and solve difficult quests that will lead them to the victory. No matter what the actual victory is: cleaning their room or running a marathon, I assure you that developing an app that will help people change their lives in an extraordinary and pleasant way is a priceless and very profitable experience!

gamification, mobile, mobile app design, mobile app development

Published at DZone with permission of Iza Majocha , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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