Gamification: Turning Boring Tasks Into AdventuresThursday December 1st, 2011
Now that technology has made it easier to introduce game mechanics into our digital experiences, people have coined the term gamification to describe this common strategy. The key to successfully gamifying your brand is focusing on creating incentives and rewards for meaningful actions, or the user will feel unfulfilled and there will be no opportunity for long term brand loyalty.
We’ve all heard “gamification” or “game mechanics” thrown around in business settings lately, usually sprung by marketers, techies or entrepreneurs in an effort to show knowledge or to support the validity of a concept or application.As soon as “gamification” is introduced, the room lights up and an idea that had little promise suddenly holds some excitement and purpose. Maybe it’s not always that extreme, but what is gamification really about? Is gamification bullshit, or can understanding it be useful to your life or brand?
Let’s think outside of digital parameters to define the term. Take a 14 year old girl. Her father asks her to take out the garbage every Thursday night. She moans and groans, even though she knows it’s coming every week, and she is absolutely aggravated that she has to leave her favorite TV episode or halt her texting to take out the trash.
On this particular week, though, her father has a plan. He is going to introduce some game mechanics. He tells his daughter, “If you take out the garbage by 8pm on Thursday evenings for a whole month without me reminding you, I’ll give you $15 to spend however you want at the end of the month. If you consistently do this for three months, I’ll bump it up to $20 per month” Now taking out the trash is a game, not a chore, just because the father introduced a reward system and a second tier of achievement.
So, we’ll say for our purposes, gamification is taking a boring or laborious process, and adding mechanics like incentives or rewards so it feels more like a game to the user. In the business world, brands are using gamification to help achieve business goals. An example of this is as simple as a progress bar to motivate users to complete their profiles, or as complex as building actions to unlock exclusive content for fans.
Gamification is often lumped in with game-making and advergaming but they are all very different. Game-making or game development focuses on game play first, and business goals second. Advergaming is building a branded game, that achieves strong gameplay and brand engagement simultaneously, and is the most difficult to accomplish. Read more about the differences here.
“Gamification” is a popular buzz word, but it’s not at all a new idea. Recent technology has allowed game mechanics to be more easily applied to common processes and procedures, especially brand experiences. Cracker Jack used game mechanics to get people to buy more of their product in 1912. McDonald’s is another example- they made it fun to buy their Happy Meals and add a large fry to get an extra game piece for their Monopoly game. Not a single marketer ever said, “Man, I love the way McDonald’s is using game mechanics to gamify their brand.” That would just sound ridiculous.
New gamification platforms allow us to apply game mechanics to our brand experiences more quickly and easily. In fact, there are tools and platforms that can “gamify” your website or ad campaign allowing you to add badges, points, or tiers to actions as simple as viewing a video, viewing a certain number of pages, or commenting on content. Small businesses and agencies might look into gamification providers like Gigya, Badgeville, Bunchball or LevelUp that offer tools to improve the customer experience and increase customer loyalty.
Now that technology has made it easier to introduce game mechanics into our digital experiences, people have coined the term gamification to describe this common strategy. Gamification has grown popular, but it’s not always appropriate and is certainly not a silver bullet to achieve more users or make more money.
The key to successfully gamifying your brand is focusing on creating incentives and rewards for meaningful actions, or the user will feel unfulfilled and there will be no opportunity for long term brand loyalty.
Are you innovating using game mechanics? Leave me some examples, and maybe I’ll give out gold, silver and bronze stars for the best responses!