Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems and engage users (from Gabe Zicherman).
The video I created above is collection of speakers / attendees who attended the Gamification Summit, NYC last week, defining the term from their perspective (featured in order: @gzicherm, Irvin Fain, @brian_wong, @tobyberesford, @dwmcallister, @mich8elwu, @jradoff, Mario Herger—thank you guys). Here’s the agenda:
For those who are new to the whole term and discussion of gamification here’s a quick and basic 101 on the subject from my experience at the conference:
When I was gaming it was Kokotoni Wilf, Jet Set Willy and the crazy blue hedgehog (bearing in mind this was during the ZX Spectrum and Sega era—yes I’m that old). Although the graphics and layers of game play has increased exponentially the fundamentals of creating player engagement has somewhat remained the same.
Great games are built around a narrative the players / users to interact with whilst completing tasks, getting rewarded, levelling up and having fun.
A great introduction to think about game theory is the Bartle’s Test (created in 1996), which attempts to defines what player type you are in an online game (take the test). There are four:
This has been used by creators to steer game development although the majority of people are socialisers (hence the popularity of social gaming in the last few years).
I really liked Jon Radoff’s challenge and approach to designing games as experiences. Layering in the crucial, and sometimes forgotten, emotional and motivational elements within the ‘play’. He also made us think about the need to:
“…understand your customer and make them a hero…
A HUGE part of gaming is the reward mechanisms. There’s the obvious intrinsic (fun, power, love, meaning etc) vs extrinsic (points, badges, punishments, levels etc) debate, but simply put, without rewards games loses its stickiness.
Another way to think about rewarding participants is by giving them the following (again from Gabe Zicherman):
- Status—reaching the end of the race first could be replaced by a new title or being referenced in the annual report as the main facilitator of success
- Access—instead of unlocking secret levels maybe it’s about the opportunity to participate in real world events like conferences or invites to executive meetings
- Power—not just more weapons but maybe the chance to make budget or policy and other creative decisions
- Stuff—sometimes cash, sometimes things like gifts, trips and other real life experiences
This is what the player / user achieves (which is different than rewards).
People need to feel like they are moving forward and this can be done either through a narrative and / or levels. Benchmarking progression is another simple measurement tool both for the user and creator of the programme. Get this right and it will drive motivation plus sustain engagement.
“The best games are designed as real life” by @aaronkwhite
So here’s three scenarios for applying gamification:
- Schools: education is currently a game (some say badly designed). It already have levels and players moving through the system, scores / grades to reward and the subjects create potential opportunities for player and personality types to engage. The problem is it’s not designed with the user in mind but with the outcome of serving an outdated notion of the world. What would a school look like if you grouped students by how their brain works (player types) and not by age / intellect? What if we not only focussed on gamifying the classroom but also the professional development of the teachers as well?
- Retail: the power of exclusivity has been used by retailers for ages but add to that the idea of discovery and referrals then you have a game. Creating an “I won” experience for shoppers through a fantastic user experience is already being done with great success by Gilt and others. This is about seeing products as rewards and the route to attainment as the interaction (game). As long as its fun people will engage.
- Internally (for a company / organisation): again with the many layers of hierarchy and sometimes reward schemes already existing the organisation and corporate environment provides a ripe environment for games. Motivating your staff to tackle the problem (whether it is finding new clients or solving marketing challenges) is sometimes about outlining what will happen if these issues aren’t solved. The reward layer could be based on a competition and the sharing of ideas could be vetted through using the built in ‘crowd’ of the company. Start small with the possibility of scaling big.
The conference filled my brain with a deeper understanding which I hope will provide the foundation in my attempt to graft this stuff onto the gamified internal social media training currently in development. This should provide a start but there are several resources and videos online which does a deeper dive for those who are hungry for more:
So, is this something you could use in your work or do you think it’s just a hollow argument and over complicated layering to experiences? Leave a comment below as would love to hear your thoughts.