In this article I will present the basec concept of gamification.
Although the article aims to give a basic overview of the concept, it does provoke some of the more advanced questions and shares some insights and ideas, that might prove useful in applying gamification.
Could your organization of business benefit from gamification? Could it be something that you would want to get involved with yourself?
What is gamification?
Gamification is applying game-design thinking and logic in a process or a 'standard' way of doing/learning something.
Gamification is the use of game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. It is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, return on investment, data quality, timeliness, and learning (Herger, 2012)
The basic qualities of any game, worth playing, are: a game is played by our own free will, it has rules players accept (and agree upon), it often improves player’s skill at achieving some (real-life) goal, it shoul be fun and rewarding – possibly with a status and/or monetary gain.
Application-wise developers create desktop (physical) games, computer-desktop games, internet and social media games, games played on smart phones and tablets etc.
Mix a game with your goals that you achieve through people (employees, customers, society) and you might have an increase in the engagement and positive vibes about your activity. >>>
Practically speaking, who would use gamification and for what? Most popular applications aim to explain a complex concept, teach and train newbies (gaining skill), develop a desired mind set, boost competition (internally and externally; i.e. gamified sales force competition), raise awarenss on different (social) topics, customer loyalty programmes etc.
MeTycoon (http://metycoon.org/) gamifies career-orientation counseling.
FoldIt (http://fold.it/portal/) gamifies protein folding in DNA. In just 10 days, players (over 240.000) have solved an issue that the scientist couldn't crack in 15 years!1
4Food (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXyCcnUXzEE) gamifies creation of meals while it de-junkes fast food!
FirmaKids (http://www.firmakids.com/en/) gamifies the works of a company and explains the concept of running a business. So far and to the knowledge of this author, the first and only Slovenian gamification example.
Gamification has been widely applied in marketing. Over 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies surveyed in 2013 said they planned to use gamification for the purposes of marketing and customer retention (Van Grove, 2011).
Google trends in Graph 1 show the rising trend of gamification (blue line), compared to declining trend of mobile marketing (red line).
Countries most interested are Singapore, Netherlands, India, Australia and USA and UK. Most search queries are: gamification examples, gamification education and social gamification.
Could your product/service/method be gamified?
The answer is yes and no.
Yes: almost anything can be merged with game-design thinking.
No: not everything is best-suitable to be gamified. The trend has limits like every other. If you remember the trend of online forums installed on company websites, than you remember that most of those never flourished and were soon discarded. I believe gamification will see a similiar fate.
Nevertheless, there is theory and a widely-accepted 'how to'. According to Yu-kai-chou, a pioneer in the field, there are 8 basic neccessary ingredients that a game should have to engage users and repay the extra effort of getting to know a (new) game.
Seeing gamification as the basic idea – reinterpreting something as a game – has perhaps the most to offer to most businesses and organization. And some games or rather gamified processes and methods, will be spilled over the brim of one organizations, reaching a wider, more general audience.
A question of ethics: is a salesman working for a company free to choose a new, gamified environment that will boost competition amongs sales people?
Because playing a game to get a plush bear is always an act of free will and fun; but playing a game to keep the job... is another feat altogether.
Gamification in my view is a powerful tool to engage a man's energy, interest and hopes. Perhaps internal organizational environments have the most challenging ethical task ahead.
Looking on gamification from a distance, I'd like to conclude this introductionary article with the words of James P. Carse: »There is no (finite) game unless the players freely choose to play it. No one can play who is forced to play. Whoever must play, cannot play. (Carse, 1986)«
Want to take the next step at applying gamification and wish to further discuss this? Welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Herger, Mario (May 21, 2012). "Gamification Facts & Figures". Enterprise-Gamification.com.
Van Grove, Jennifer (28 July 2011). "Gamification: How Competition Is Reinventing Business, Marketing & Everyday Life". Mashable. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
Carse, James P. (1986): Finite and infinite games: a vision of Life as play and possibility, Free Press, New York