In many ways, business and games share many similarities. Of course, business is no game – losing at business can have disastrous consequences incomparable to game playing (where you can simply hit replay until you win).
However, in both games and business, people seek to gain additional currency, a higher status and promotion. This is all done by completing a series of tasks successfully or by making wise decisions.
Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to other areas of activity to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. It is often used as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service, and taps into the basic desires and needs of the users’ impulses, which revolve around the idea of status and achievement.
An IBM study found that a great lecture can improve learning by 17%, but serious games can improve learning by 108%
A variety of companies in different industries have already put gamification techniques to good use to achieve their business objectives:
- The US Army – Created the online game “America’s Army”, which has attracted millions of potential recruits
- Samsung – Rewards users for getting engaged in the community via Samsung Nation. Users participating in Q&A discussions, watching videos, reviewing products, etc. are awarded badges and progress through levels of achievement, all of which create valuable branded content for the company.
- Bluewolf – The global business consulting firm created its own Going Social programme, which offered points and rewards for internal and external collaboration, publishing blog posts, earning a Klout score of above 50 and other achievements. This resulted in a more robust social presence that engages potential customers and drives employee investments.
- Nissan – The Carwings concept for Nissan leaf, a 100% electric car, used smartphones to allow drivers to compare performance, earn medals, climb leader boards and win complimentary services from Nissan.
Gamification is growing and research from Gartner indicated that by 2015, 50% of organisations that manage innovation processes would gamify those processes. 50% may sound a lot, but Gartner seems to have only measured the companies that manage innovation processes and these are more likely to be the top companies with a strong focus on growth so one would assume that there are still plenty of opportunities for other companies to put gamification to profitable use before their competitors.
The four principle means of driving engagement identified by Gartner using gamification techniques are:
- Accelerated feedback cycles: Gamification increases the velocity of feedback loops to maintain engagement.
- Clear goals and rules of play: Gamification provides clear goals and well-defined rules of play to ensure players feel empowered to achieve goals.
- A compelling narrative: Gamification builds a narrative that engages players to participate and achieve the goals of the activity.
- Tasks that are challenging but achievable: Gamification provides many short-term, achievable goals to maintain engagement.
Surprising Gamification Statistics
- The gamification industry is expected to grow to over $2 billion in the U.S. by 2015, according to M2 Research. (Huffington Post)
- 61% of surveyed CEOs, CFOs, and other senior executives say they take daily game breaks at work. More than half of these gameful executives say they play during work in order “to feel more productive.” (Ryan Jenkins)
- By 2014…more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations were predicted to have at least one gamified application, driving 50% of all innovation. (Engagement Alliance)
- At Fortune 500 firms, 73.6 percent of technology-delivered training comes through networked, online methods
- Since 2010, over 350 companies have launched major gamification projects. These include consumer brands like MLB, Adobe, NBC, Walgreens, Ford, Southwest, eBay, Panera, and more. (Huffington Post)
- In the United States alone, there are 183 million active gamers (33.5 million in the UK). Those gamers play 13 hours a week on average. (Ryan Jenkins)
- Almost 80% of the learners say that they would be more productive if their university/institution or work was more game-like. (Talent LMS)
- Over 60% of learners say they would be motivated by leader boards and increased competition between students. 89% say that a point system would increase their engagement with an eLearning application. (Talent LMS)
- By 2018, the Global Gamification Market will reach $5.5 billion. (Engagement Alliance)
- 63% of American adults agree that making everyday activities more like a game would make them more fun and rewarding (JW Intelligence).
Things to consider before implementing Gamification in your company:
- Planning – often the hardest part is to figure out how to make work more engaging, 90% of workers said a fun work environment is very or extremely motivating.
- Participation – Create meaningful and thoughtful experiences, avoid mundane tasks, and give them a challenge.
- Voluntary – Don’t make it compulsory to play but ensure that it is irresistible to participate.
- Blend – Try and balance collaboration with competition – 76% of employees find praise from their peers to be extremely motivating.
- Progress – It’s important to emphasise feedback and progress throughout the game, use points systems, badges, rewards and levels to increase engagement.
- Analyse – Gamification can provide both insights and data on employees’ performances, ensure that you track and adjust the gamification techniques you use accordingly.
Be aware of unintended side effects and plan to avoid these in your gamification:
- Boredom – Gamification techniques on employees over a long period can become boring. Customers can simply jump to another part of your campaign but employees feel tied in and the same game will become tiring eventually. Keep things fresh.
- Frustration – Not all employees are motivated by the same gamification techniques. Employees can become frustrated if the gamification is mandatory, always keep it optional with enticements.
- Cheating and abuse – There are often means of cheating and unfairly jumping ahead in all games, when this occurs it can have negative connotations on other employees. If cheating is suspected handle it quietly and firmly.
Gamification is a tool that when used properly can generate a large amount of good will, motivation and engagement while increasing learning and helping to achieve business objectives.