As a species, humans have always worked to feed, clothe, and house ourselves. As societies were developed and we began to work as communities to fulfill the basic necessities of sustaining life, we also began opening up free time… and free time, as a generalization, is time for games. Involving yourself in a game, therefore tells your mind that what you’re engaged in/with is fun because you are doing this activity in your free time (even if you’re not actually doing the task in your free time and even if the task leans more toward ‘work’ than ‘fun’). Your brain can’t separate out work that appears as fun, from the things you involve yourself in your free time that are fun.
The ability to ‘hide’ work under the cover of a game is gamification.
According to Wikipedia, gamification is the “use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts.”
I remember when I was little, I had some sort of electrical learning set, that would light a light bulb if the correct wires were touched together (extremely vague memories here…). The light bulb acted as the catalyst to cause me to want to learn how this was happening. It was game theory combined with the very basics of electrical engineering.
I also remember the first time I consciously realized how powerful gamification could be. I was in college and had 5 friends over. My lawn desperately needed a mowing 3 weeks ago. I pulled out the lawnmower with my friends standing outside and proceeded to do a nice looking spiral cut in the grass. Immediately my friend Adam spoke up saying, “That’s pretty cool, but I bet I can do better.” He proceeded to mow his spiral rendition challenging mine. My other 3 friends followed suit and my lawn was mowed (with very neat designs at that)!
We have all been involved in gamification at many points in our life, and we might not have even realized it. In grade school your teacher might have put up “good behavior leaderboards.” Or maybe when you had to clean the house and would compete with your siblings to do the best job.
As a web-based business owner, putting some major thought into adding a component of gamification to your website, fan page, employee management techniques, and overall business is a wise move. Just about everything can incorporate game mechanics and the younger generations are ALL about playing games. Kids nowadays spend more time playing video games and mobile app games than it was ever thought imaginable.
Did you ever read Ender’s Game? In a nutshell it’s about a group of children who annihilate an alien species by commanding fleets of warships, but all the while the kids think they’re just playing video games. This is gamification at its best (or worst depending on the disposition of the aliens).
Gamification is everywhere but has only recently come into the global consciousness on a business level. Many folks in the tech industry (myself included) believe that proper implementation of gamification is the way of the future for successful websites.
How do you get more subscribers? Make people feel like it’s a game to get their friends to subscribe?
How do you get people to exercise? Create games that offer rewards for reaching certain levels?
Nearly every one of us has used gamification in the real world to make ‘work’ more entertaining. Often times, what can be done in the real world, can be emulated in the online world. Here’s a quick look at the main ways that gamification can be used.
Leaderboards: Leaderboards rank and motivate us to get on top of the leaderboard.
Real World Examples: While I was in college I was a swim coach. A large part of our training was doing dry land exercises (stretching, running, medicine balls, pushups, pull ups, etc). I would keep a leaderboard chart of progress for each of my swimmers. The swimmers knew where they were on the leaderboard, what their last time was in the run, and always wanted to beat their last time and get higher on the leaderboard.
Online Examples: Often times our company runs contests with our affiliate partners and we have a public leaderboard that we update and announce on our JV blog and emails. It engages our affiliates to want to promote harder just to be featured on the leaderboard. By our nature, nearly all of us want to be at the top of the leaderboard.
Challenges: Challenging someone to do a task so that there can be a winner. Even the most annoying and mundane tasks can become exciting when you involve a challenge of some sort that gives you the opportunity to win.
Real World Examples: I used to weld metal at a band saw blade factory. My co-workers and I would compete in challenges to see who could weld the most amount of metal in one hour. The challenge also took quality into account; so in order to win, you had to do the most amounts of quality welds in one hour. Suddenly, the most boring job in the world became competitive, fun, and exciting, and an hour flew by without us even realizing it. It always felt real nice to win, too. The Boss absolutely loved it when we got in on these challenges and would come back in the factory to watch it all go down.
Online Example: Our friends / clients over at Nectar Sunglasses hold picture contests where their users upload pictures of them wearing the Nectar Sunglasses and whoever gets the most “likes” on their photo wins free shades.
Points: Points can denote achievement and encourage engagement. Points also measure achievements in relation to others and keep the user motivated to get more points, and make it to the next level.
Real World Example: It’s so blatantly obvious we overlooked it for a minute… In school you have a grade point average. Though, some might argue that school isn’t actually the ‘real world.’
Online Example: You could give people “points” or “virtual currency” for sharing your website with a certain number of friends. Points or currency could act as currency on your website. Deal4Real.Asia lets you refer friends to get RM5 Tokens. Points can also come in different forms such as Facebook Likes & Instagram Hearts.
Badges: Badges have their origins in the physical world and when you earn a badge, it is a way to show the world that you have achieved something.
Real World Examples: You can earn medals and badges in the military for going above and beyond your requested duty. When I was a Royal Ambassador, similar to a Boy Scout, we could earn badges for excellently performing various activities. We would wear these patches on our uniform.
Online Example: Foursquare popularized the digital variety of badges with a set of real-life merit badges that range from easy to nearly-impossible to unlock. When you use FourSquare you can “Save Money & Unlock Rewards.”
Levels: Everyone wants to reach and unlock new levels and this is a prime technique for game mechanics.
Real World Example: On my swim team, we had many different groups from the more beginner groups all the way to the most advanced levels. Growing up, it was always my goal to work harder so that I could get into the next group, or level.
Online Example: Many credit card companies allow you to reach new levels when you spend certain amounts. With each new level that you hit, you receive additional rewards.
Progress Bars: A progress bar can encourage someone to complete all desired tasks, such as completing a social networking profile or earning a frequent shopper loyalty award.
It can basically be a visual meter that depicts 100%. When the task is complete the bar is full.
I read an interesting bit of information while researching this post. A venture capitalist said that half of all companies seeking funding for consumer software applications mentioned game design in their investor presentation.
How are you using gamification?
Original Source: Daily Deal Media