Gamification is a hot topic as of late and has seen marketing, education, and non-profit groups adopting the use of gamification concepts at a rapid rate. While some will say gamification is not true gaming and others see it as an unnecessary distraction, I think both groups may be missing the point. Before I dive into why I believe this let’s recap what gamification actually means and some real world exampled.
So what does gamification mean? According to Wikipedia it is defined as follows:
Gamification is the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications (also known as "funware"), particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications. It also strives to encourage users to engage in desired behaviors in connection with the applications. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, and by encouraging desired behaviors, taking advantage of humans' psychological predisposition to engage in gaming. The technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, or reading web sites.
Tim Chang of Norwest Venture Partners is credited with coining the term gamification and he recently participated in the first ever Gamification Summit (which sold out btw) that just took place 20-21 January in San Francisco. The chair of the summit was Gabe Zichermann, a self-described “gamification thought leader.” According to Gabe the biggest mistake someone looking at gamification can make is assuming it is all about prizes and rewards. In his opinion it should be about status, access, power, and then stuff. He says, “The heart of your game should be reach a higher-class tier and as a result getting more exclusivity in options, services and places available to your top players. Of course, people do like to get stuff, but status is a much better motivator over the long term.”
Some real world examples of gamification include:
Foursquare – Often heralded as the best example for gamification of social media
Quest to Learn – This NYC charter school says, “As is the case with many of the games played by young people today, Quest is designed to enable students to “take on” the identities and behaviors of explorers, mathematicians, historians, writers, and evolutionary biologists as they work through a dynamic, challenge-based curriculum with content-rich questing to learn at its core.”
Evoke – The goal of this social network game is to help empower young people all over the world, and especially young people in Africa, to come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems. According to Jane McGonigal, “"If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict and obesity, I believe we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week buy the end of the next decade."
So again I think naysayers are missing the point. Gamification takes activities that might be considered boring and, by layering game techniques, makes them engaging and highly motivating experiences. In my mind’s eye leveraging game approaches to disciplines like education or philanthropy will reignite interest and participation from a larger demographic and more importantly the next generation of our society. I call this a win, win scenario and don’t understand why anyone would say this concept should not be embraced and deployed widely. I say, game on folks!