Gamification – Does it really motivate your audience to engage, achieve goals and become a more active contributor within your community?

Based on our most recent implementation of gamification at Cisco Live San Diego 2015 last month, the answer to this question is an astounding YES.

Let’s take a quick step back. What exactly is gamification? Gamification can be defined in a number of ways but I like to define it as the application of online game mechanics in a non-game setting to motivate users to engage, achieve goals and build loyalty through the use of intrinsic (and extrinsic) rewards and recognition.

One of our most recent applications of gamification at Cisco was applied to our largest yearly customer event – Cisco Live (San Diego) and this time we targeted the DevNet Zone, also known as our Developer program.

Badges_consolidated with mission

What were our goals in implementing gamification at the event?

  • Register new members to the DevNet Community and DevNet site
  • Increase participation within the self-paced learning labs, classroom sessions, hackathon, theater talks and demo pods
  • Create specific missions and capture activities completed by each player within the DevNet Community
  • Recognize and reward top participants via an onsite live leaderboard by showcasing virtual achievements/badges earned and awarding winners/leaders with onsite tangible prizes

We made sure we could track the success of our gamification project. The numbers speak loud and clear.

  1. Gamification drives engagement.
  2. Gamification motivates users to change behaviors, develop their skills, achieve goals and thus drive innovation.

It was fascinating to watch attendees within the DevNet Zone glued to their seats during learning labs, stay up all night to complete the Hackathon event (of course the $10,000 first place prize didn’t hurt either!), constantly check the onsite live leaderboard to see where they stood in the competition.  It quickly became clear that our DevNet audience is not only highly passionate and competitive about coding, etc. , they are also highly motivated on an emotional level to achieve personal goals when recognized publicly for their skills, expertise and achievements.


Registrations & Activity:
·         Registered 2,656 new DevNet site members – 350% increase over the weekly average
·         Registered 2,103 new Community members (44% are developers) – 100% increase over the weekly average
Registered 932 new DevNet community members482% increase over the weekly average
·         9,816 total activities completed by 1334 community members (average of 7.4 activities completed per user)

Cisco Live, San Diego Statistics:
·         Page views increased 259%
o    From weekly average of 2,353 to 42,285 (Avg. weekly 8,457)
·         Unique visitors increased 123%
o    From weekly average of 1,123 to 12,498 (Avg. weekly 2,499)
·         Visits increased 115%
o    From weekly average of 932 to 10,040 (Avg. weekly 2008)
·         Active users increased 30%
o    From weekly average of 3,281 to 21,330 (Avg. weekly 4266)
·         Contributing users increased 48%
o    From weekly average of 166 to 1,230 (Avg. weekly 246)

Devnet Badges Earned as a direct result of advanced gamification:
·         2,946 Guru badges earned
·         1,068 Guru Level 1 badges earned
·         802 Guru Level 2 badges earned
·         618 Guru Level 3 badges earned
·         458 Guru Level 4 badges earned
·         83 Code breaker badges earned
·         3 Hackathon badges earned (1st, 2nd and 3rd place, total of 100 developers participated, see winners)




As digital marketers, one of the biggest challenges we face today is the ability to keep our audiences interested and motivated. As a direct result of the overwhelming amount of information available to us in this ever-changing and sometimes chaotic digital information age, it seems we all have less and less time to spare.  It is a constant struggle to keep audiences excited to engage.  Gamification is a new marketing approach that enables organizations to think differently about the needs of their audience and how to motivate them to achieve both their own and shared business goals.

A few key takeaways from our gamification pilot:

  • Before you begin, analyze your audience. Get to know them, understand them. Learn what motivates them to achieve their goals and conduct research.  We conducted an A/B test prior to our launch and we learned a lot about our audience’s preferences through this simple yet highly effective test.
  • Start small (e.g. with a pilot) so as to not overwhelm. Select a small segment of your audience. Build, measure, learn. Repeat. Complexity should be built over time, not from the start.
  • Develop a meaningful points, missions and badges framework (that can later be applied to a larger segment).
  • Create visually appealing virtual badges. Just like people want to proudly display real-life trophies or plaques on their desks for example, users want to display their virtual badges on their profiles so be sure to focus on design and don’t be afraid to add some sex appeal.
  • Build, measure, learn. Repeat. It is extremely important to consistently evaluate your gamification program to ensure that your program is meeting the needs of your audience. Have you set the bar too high? Do the levels of achievements need to be adjusted? Is the audience becoming bored? Do you need to do a better job at surprising and delighting them? These are just a few areas to evaluate on a regular basis to ensure that your gamification program remains fresh and rises to the top.

Watch this short video to learn more about the DevNet Zone at Cisco Live and specifically the hackathon event:




What are your thoughts on gamification? Do you believe that gamification can motivate audiences and drive loyalty? I’d love to hear from you. Oh, and did I mention you’ll earn points (and possibly a virtual badge!) by posting a comment if you’re a member of the Social Rewards program on the Cisco Blogs? 😉


Deanna Belle

No Longer with Cisco