It is easy to write gamification off as a fad. It is also easy to be switched off by the name. Instantly you see visions of your employees sitting at their desks playing video games, rather than doing real work.
Let me get this out of the way straight off the bat: Gamification is NOT about turning everything into a game. It is about taking ideas and mechanics that games developers have been using for years to get players to do what they want them to do and applying them to day to day business tasks.
If you ask ten experts “What is Gamification”… you will get at least nine different answers. However, most will revolve around the same ideas. When asked, I usually give the following statement: ”Gamification is the use of gaming metaphors to influence behavior, enhance motivation, increase productivity and improve engagement.”
Here is a little secret… games developers have been manipulating games players since the first games were invented. Not just video games, but all games ever. They create a rule set and tell players you will do simple tasks, based on my rules, you will enjoy it and keep coming back for more. Monopoly is a great example. It is a game that has you buying and selling property. Unless you are an estate agent, this is hardly the stuff of school children’s dreams. However, put some dice in, add some cute character pieces and put some strict rules in place and you have one of the most popular board games of all time. And there is more to the enjoyment of the game than just winning.
This kind of thinking can be applied to almost any task and people are doing this in the real world. Take a mundane task, such as data entry. Create teams of data entry staff. Apply a set of rules that state that for every correctly entered line of data, that “players” team get a point. At the end of each week announce a winner and hand that team a trophy. Now you have teams of people, doing what is honestly boring work, with a new motivation. Help my team be the best and stay the best.
This is not just theory. Big names like SAP are already using similar methods with their accounts payable teams. There are so many applications for gamification in any company that it is impossible to talk about them in one blog post. In my next post, I will address how gamification is being used in learning and corporate training.
Gamification is not a magic bullet, nor is it simple to implement. However, given the right approach and the right dedication it has the potential to improve almost any aspect of a business.
Andrzej, great post. By applying these Game Mechanics (aka Gamification), Reputation Mechanics (more about your status, not necessarily the rewards), and Social Mechanics (powering your OWN sites/mobile/apps with the same functionality that the large social networks provide), we are seeing business attain incredible increases in ENGAGEMENT by their customers, employees, developers, and partners. The financial impact this is having on hundreds of business in the areas of customer acquisition, engagement, loyalty, and commerce, are profound. This is the beginning of a movement that will be pervasive and ubiquitous. Having an engagement strategy and platform to execute it on will be 'business 101' in a few years.
Keep up the thought leadership, Andrzej, it's great to see.
@Badgeville, the global gamification leader, we agree with your points here. Gamification for the enterprise is taking off, and being used in all aspects of business. Our over 175 customers, from EMC to Deloitte to CA Technologies, use gamification to drive valuable user behavior across their own customers and employees. Thank you for clarifying that gamification is not about turning everything into a game, as many people are still think this to be the case. Instead, it's about using these mechanics to influence behavior. And it works! Visit www.badgeville.com for more information.
@badgeville A deep topic that most sadly get put off of due to the name! Even influence can cause some issues as they instantly think of manipulation. Again, this is just lack of understanding, Mmm. Maybe another blog in that :-)
@Bunchball, the leader in gamification, we help our customers build what we call the “Engaged Enterprise” through gamification. This improves business performance throughout their ecosystem by creating highly-active and loyal customers, employees and partners. I can tell you it's real and it works to solve every day business problems.
@CarolineJapic As you say, it is real and be used by many companies to great effect.
As you say, most of this is nothing new. Part of what we are now beginning to understand more of, is the psychology behind how this stuff can work (and can't work). This article also only touches on on or two aspects of Gamification. There will be more to come! Glad you enjoyed it so far.
Thanks for helping clarify the confusion around the term 'gamification', Andrzej. Once you dive in, you realize that people have been 'gamifying' their experience for a very long time (loyalty, titles, boy-scout badges, grades) and that we're just now experiencing an explosion in understanding of how far it can go, and how to do it effectively.
You're especially right to emphasize that gamification is not a magic bullet. It's not easy, and it can't fix a bad product that nobody wants.
RobinKrieglstein Exactly - we have simply come up with a shiny new word for something that has been around for quite some time. Sure, it's getting more exposure now that we have a new label for it, but it's nothing revolutionary.