Gaming Makes the World Go Round
Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do – Mark Twain
Ever since we were knee high to a grasshopper, play time has been a reward for doing our chores or getting a good grade. As we got older, the reward itself became the motivation for playing (meeting a challenge, winning points, getting peer recognition, gaining new skills, etc.). But why should games just be something you do on your spare time? That’s where gamification comes into play!
Coined in 2007, the term gamification refers to the practice of applying game mechanics to non-game sectors, such as websites, education, work, and social media. Companies offer rewards to their customers who join in the game, turning routine tasks—like filling out a questionnaire, purchasing a product, watching an ad, or absorbing information—into fun activities!
According to Amy Jo Kim, who published her theory on the subject in 2009, gamification has five key ingredients:
- - Points: Scoring points by overcoming challenges within the context of a journey
- - Collecting: Collecting things, like badges, to gain status and belong to a brand
- - Feedback: Giving and receiving feedback through a system where participants can interact, exchange feedback, or give their email address for a reward
- - Exchanges: Exchanging ideas, working together, and sharing helps community members overcome challenges
- - Customization: Customizing services with rewards suited to users’ needs and desires
The widespread use of mobile devices and technology has now made it possible to target the general population, not just gamers. At work and at play, people love their games.
Games R Us
More and more, companies are incorporating gaming into their marketing, HR, and R&D strategies, to name a few. According to the research institute Gartner, more than 50 percent of companies will “gamify [their] processes” by 2015, for both internal and external purposes. There are many reasons why.
External gamification can help you
· build customer loyalty and a sense of belonging
o Nike+: This device measures and records the speed and distance of your walk or run while motivating you with your favourites songs and feedback
· boost sales
o Melotweet: Evian’s iPad/iPhone app turns Twitter into a fun musical experience that encourages you to buy their bottled water
· encourage sharing games on social media and driving traffic to websites
o Samsung Nation: This program lets you earn points, rewards, and allows you to share content on social media on each page you visit
Internal gamification can help you
· motivate your sales force
o Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Spark, a gamified employee incentive add-on, rewards employees by letting them earn badges, points, and rewards that can be exchanged for gift cards. The tool allows employees to track their progress and then compare themselves to others.
· train and recruit employees
o Marriott: The My Marriott online game is designed to recruit staff and teach future employees how a hotel works, starting with the kitchen.
· challenge staff and get them involved using crowdsourcing techniques
o Idea Street: This Spark (UK) initiative encourages employees to come up with ideas and “work with colleagues to make their ideas a reality.” In return, employees are rewarded through a points system.
You may also want to read: “Crowdsourcing—the Latest Trend”
Video games also have the potential to solve society’s problems by influencing people’s behaviour in a positive way.
- Some games educate.
o Zamzee: This US game encourages families to get active and get a handle on obesity.
o Recyclebank: Gets Americans hyped on recycling.
- Others get people involved in improving their communities through crowdsourcing.
o Fold.it: Here, players contribute to important scientific research by solving puzzles (virtual amino acid protein chains). In September 2011, the structure of an enzyme linked to AIDS found in monkeys was discovered in just a few weeks (source).
Most people are just kids at heart with a gamer inside just waiting to get out so integrating fun challenges into day-to-day situations can be a great motivator. However, it can also been seen as a form of manipulation in the hands of a company. Some subjects just don’t lend themselves to gamification—not everything is funny, not everything is a game. At the end of the day, it depends on the company’s strategy, objectives, and how they use gamification.