Sunday, August 7, 2016

Gamification 101

According to the Gartner Group, over 70% of the global 2000 companies now have at least one gamified process. Gamification is a way of improving how you engage with end-users. This typically takes place on some type of online platform – making the experience more fun and rewarding for customers, employees, or business partners. Many gamification applications will issue badges, points or some other incentive for active participation. A simple example is to allow users to vote thumbs up or thumbs down or Likes on Facebook.

“Gamification has emerged as a significant trend in recent years. Gamification uses game mechanics and game design techniques in non-gaming context – it's a powerful tool to engage employees, customers and the public to change behaviors, develop skills and drive innovation.” – Gartner Group

One of the real benefits of gamification is the extension of your workforce. You are engaging with people who become part of helping you run your business, but they are not officially working for the company. For your regular employees, you can use gamification to manage and develop the human capital of the company through e-learning, recruitment, referrals, wellness and motivational techniques.

Part of the appeal of gamification comes from the fact that people are being bombarded with traditional techniques of engagement – popup ads, calls to action, and other techniques that are increasingly less effective because of the huge volume of digital clutter pushed onto the end-user. Gamification enriches the experience in a more subtle and accepting way for the end-user, enlisting active participation without selling the person something they don’t want. This “trust environment” of gamification comes from the large level of participation by other end users. Additionally, people are willing to participate when they are recognized by other participants as opposed to the corporate organization behind the process.

It is important to structure the gamification process with user recognition at different levels of accomplishments. Air Canada denotes participation levels between gold, bronze and silver customer status. The use of reward cards is a common example of how this is done. It also helps to visually show people the progress they are making – what is my score or ranking? More advanced forms of gamification allow the user to picture themselves in a virtual reality world – trying on new shoes or cloths and picturing themselves in this new outfit.

"Games are one area of life where failure isn't taken personally. In games, failure is expected, and there's always a way to play again; games help us appreciate the story of our failures and successes as an entertaining narrative rather than as a story about how you just aren't good enough for this or that."
- Gabe Zichermann, CEO of

We live in a very interactive and connected world. Part of your strategy for flourishing in this new world should be some form of gamification of your online processes. This will require a different view of design that is extremely agile and a lot more engaging with everyone you touch in running your business. 

This article has touched on a few basics of gamification. There are plenty of resources to help you get started. One I would highly recommend is the talk and books published by Jane McGonigal who has been a pioneer on the subject. 

“Gamification is serious business. The companies leveraging it are taking the essence of what makes games so alluring (a shared sense of purpose, challenge and reward), decoding the mechanics that make them work (personalization, rankings and leaderboards) and then applying these mechanics in a multitude of imaginative initiatives to help enhance customer loyalty, motivate shoppers to buy and provide more compelling mechanisms for retaining and encouraging talent.” - Accenture

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