Gamification is using game design elements in non-gaming contexts. The idea is that, if a system (perhaps a software tool designed to do something useful) can be fun, then people are more likely to engage with the system. It’s the art and craft bringing fun and engaging elements popularized by games to non-game systems. Gamification is making non-game systems more engaging by making them more like games.
These game-like design elements are often understood to include points, badges, time pressure, and community connections. But it’s important to note that effective gamification design is more than just these elements. In fact, these simple gamification elements are just the one part of the gamification story. In this post we not only describe gamification itself, but drill down into business gamification and how it can help you.
The other important component of the gamification story is designing systems so that they actually are fun to engage with. There is more focus on the importance of design and on the experience being created. Some of these design elements include choosing the right story, rules, goals, feedback, and environment (summarized beautifully by authors like Sebastian Deterding).
Also, elements like relevancy, connectedness, laughter and pride are powerful elements. The elements of this design component are both more subtle and more obvious in a way than badges and points alone could be, and it can be called “gameful design,” “gamefulness,” or “gaminess.”
Since many people informally group gamification and gameful design together, I will do so in this blog as well.
Why do we care?
We care because it’s effective when done right. History is full of examples of game concepts applied to all kinds of non-work areas.
- Famine – According to Herodotus, the ancient Kingdom of Lydia famine was abated through by encouraging the population to play dice instead of eating.
- In the travel industry, airlines offer travelers “frequent flyer” points that are redeemable for privileges and services – and so do hotels, car rental agencies, and restaurants.
- In consumer packaged goods, breakfast cereals and Cracker Jack include a surprise in every box.
- In political campaigns and sales offices, workers reward volunteers who have made the most phone calls or registered the most voters.
- In medical clinics, experience designers are creating ways to increase adherence to exercise and drug regimens.
- In classrooms, teachers have long offered incentives like points or privileges to students as an added bonus to those who excel and who inspire other students to learn.
- In research labs, research teams are creating games like Foldit where non-scientists compete with one another to discover how to fold proteins.
Business Gamification: The Take-Away
Gamification is a broadly-applied term applied to practical applications for getting work done. It often includes not only the elements used to make them more game-like, but also the ways in which the apps are designed (“gaminess”) to make them more fun. And fun is what you want if your goal is for people to motivate themselves to use your system.
Next: Gamification in the Enterprise
In the future, I’ll discuss how business are using the principles of gamification (and yes, gameful design as well!), and some of their B2B, B2C, and B2E (business-to-employee) applications.
Venice Consulting Group (VCG)
VCG is an interactive web portal consulting and development company. We specialize in process optimization and user experience. With a valuable combination of regulated industry experience & technical expertise, VCG applies the latest technologies to meet our clients’ objectives and improve their bottom line. VCG offers high value through its design, and offers low-risk cost savings through its “hybrid near-shore” approach.