The word “game” is a word dating back to early ears of human existence. Games have always held mass appeal due to their entertainment and fun characteristics. “Gamification” thus applies elements from games to traditionally non-game applications and processes, particularly in the realm of technology, to solve problems and engage users.
Gamification is the merger of conventional techniques to gain user attention and loyalty to the technologies. Today almost every industry, directly or indirectly, is trying to make their products or services more interesting through gamification. From frequent flyer program to gain points for passengers to online education and present day state-of-the-art games involving around every subject application makes it a very robust concept, which will increasingly find its presence due to increasing user’s interaction.
Why use Gamification?
Experts and early adopters of gamification point to the following benefits:
Social media is one of the applications of the gamification technique. By allowing businesses to gain global users, utilizing crowdsourcing, it creates the opportunity for businesses to gather vast amounts of data, useful for analyzing trends and behaviors of their consumer base. The principles of gamificaiton create more engagement, along with a sense of belonging and community, thus motivating stickiness to sites and driving the potential for more opportunities for monetization
Gamification, research shows, has greater acceptability and success probability, since it taps into the human urge to have a positive affect or mood, and quenches that yearning to win by achieving a goal against challenges. People love games – not just your typical Playstation or Xbox games, but also casual games like Farmville on Facebook or Angry Birds on your phone. Interactive entertainment is enjoyed by everyone, no matter what age, and casual games provide the key to the door of mass community engagement.
From an implementation perspective, it does require creativity to design, execute and monitor a game effectively. In one enterprise initiative, a digital media and entertainment company used its employee base for indexing, ranking, and classifying social media response to a mega-event on television and web. Ranking millions of viewer responses meant creating thousands of validated data sets for text mining, so that for the rest machine learning could be stimulated. Further, employees were needed to do it real-time, since the event was telecast in after-office hours. Such challenges required voluntary employee participation and at a scale and diversity that would otherwise require a complete division to plan and execute. With gamification, it turned into a win-win situation. Further, the company could weave it into its long-term employee gamification and apply present and past learning’s to improve further.
What’s Driving the Trend?
In 2012, three key components have driven Gamification.
Gamification, applying game principles, design, and mechanics to a non-gaming environment, allows people to interact with one another, enjoy themselves, and generally receive some type of reward along the way. It is a trend picking up speed in the business world. The M2 Research estimates that market spend on gamification solutions will reach $242 million by the end of 2012, which is more than double from 2011. New research has estimated that by 2014, 70% of large companies will use gamification techniques for at least one business process.
Currently, enterprise represents the biggest segment of the market for new growth at 25% of the market. Entertainment and Media/Publishing represent the largest segments at 18% and 17% respectively.
Games Employees Play (…and employers are happy to see them play)
Let’s say one fine day, Joe walks into his office and is greeted by a coupon in his mailbox that says he gets a $500 voucher for a vacation for his family. No strings attached except that he has to play some games. Sounds intriguing, right?
All that Joe has to do is competitively play out challenges in a series of options available to him in a game. Click and he gets a screen avatar that looks like it’s straight from his favorite Disney character or maybe a type of Angry Bird.
The difference from the typical online or mobile device game is that he earns points based on versions of game that make him perform actions desirable to the company. It requires some creativity to design games that link such desirable outcomes with Joe’s possible actions in a game, but can involve activities such as remarking on readers’ comments on company portals, or answering some complaints on company products, with higher points for resolving customer issues. Maybe it involves Re-tweeting corporate messages to his Twitter followers, or rating news items published about his company on the web. Joe’s effort, while engaging in this game, ties into mass efforts needed by companies from research to consumer relationship, operations, and strategy. From getting employee’s networks to fill out surveys sent by the marketing team, referring a friend for a job post, spreading word about CSR initiatives, and more, companies can unleash the power of social media, crowdsourcing and gamification all converging to make us explore the new connected world.
Who’s Using It?
Gamification has found its spread across multiple industries, such as enterprise, entertainment, retail, media and publishing, education, and healthcare/wellness.
The current year is very critical for platform providers, as well as the deploying organizations, to understand the long-term payoffs term of the implementation. Only long-term strategies provide an audience with the incentive to dedicate their attention to an application and will keep them engaged with the community as a whole.
A word of caution though. Many ideas in gamification are just being explored and field is in nascent stage. Companies must make sure they do not end up being guinea pigs. Ideal is to start small, possibly by repeating successful examples elsewhere and ensuring early successes through creative design, management support to the initiative and employee enthusiasm.