Gamification, what’s all that fuss about?

Gamification is the application of gaming principles in non-gaming contexts, to solve real-life problems or improve an offer. Relying on a human’s predispositions to play, it is based on the fundamental techniques for building an engaging game and the study of player behaviour. The aim is to bring fun into activities that are not considered as such.

Think of it this way… Learning or work situations can be made to be naturally engaging and pleasant. Just imagine the possibilities.

Specifically, gamification is used by companies to motivate employees, create healthy competition between teams, generate interest for a brand or proof-of-concept of a product and encourage customer loyalty. Several techniques can be effective for any company that cares about boosting interest in the following:

  • Hiring
  • Motivation
  • User experience
  • Brand loyalty
  • Online community commitment
  • Evidence of achievement

 

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IT DIDN’T START YESTERDAY

From the late 20th century, experimenting with gamification was already underway. The first marketers were looking for a way to increase customer loyalty.

Founded in 1896, the company Sperry & Hutchinson (S & H) designed one of the first stamp programs exchangeable for goods (toys, personal items, furniture and appliances). This program was designed to build customer loyalty, but also to promote cash payments instead of credit.

The stamps were collected in booklets and returned to the store once completed. This program became very popular in the 60’s and was imitated by several companies. Though outdated, you can still see its impact on similar models still in use.

 

WHAT ABOUT NOW?

Here are some examples of successful application of gamification in modern business:

 

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CHALLENGE OF EGYPT
Project managers trained with LEGO

With no other tool than LEGO blocks, the IT infrastructure project management team of the World Cup in Qatar took part in this exercise.

Simulating (4000 years ago) the project management of building a pyramid (made of Lego); it had to protect the pharaoh’s house and treasures in the afterlife. The purpose of the exercise was to find the right operating model in the game context and then determine what improvements could be applied in real life, on the real project.

Gamification has allowed managers to:

  • Translate theory into practice
  • Develop relevant skills
  • Experiment with project instruments
  • Raise awareness and create demand for more advanced training courses
  • Assess current capabilities and measure real-time improvements

 

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ROAD WARRIOR TRAINING (SAP – Systems, Applications and Products)
Motivating the sales department

Sales people are usually pretty competitive, so a fun training program was perfect to motivate them to improve their good salesperson skills. According to Salesforce.com, 90% of companies that decided to integrate entertaining training programs in their sales team have had positive results.

The tool simulates meetings with fictitious customers, enabling representatives to collect points and reach higher levels of interaction via true or false questionnaires. Various situations enable them to acquire new knowledge directly applicable in reality.

 

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THE US ARMY GAME
A forewarned rookie is forearmed

To determine if the individual is willing to become a real soldier, the US military has developed a multiplayer tactical shooter video game where people can fight in small groups in realistic situations.

The business objective is of course to increase the number of recruits in the US Army. Hence, the completion of a profile linked to the "online army" providing all your real data is mandatory to play.

The game can even adapt typical reward systems (found in gamification concepts) with a real badge of honor that a rookie could potentially get by becoming an actual soldier for the US Army.

While it is a controversial method according to many critics, advocates say it is not a tool of propaganda or glorification of war, but rather an effective screening process to ensure that the candidate well understands the typical issues and therefore makes a more informed choice.

 

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NIKE + and the Running Experience Community Project
Runners Escape

What better than a zombie attack to get motivated to run? Nike's application is based on this premise. To increase their brand visibility and loyalty while accumulating data over a long period, the game simulates a zombie invasion in which the user must "escape" in real time to avoid becoming their next meal.

For many, running is fun, but for others, it is rather a mean to an end. What about running for fun? By walking, jogging or running, the game’s context is distributed on screen of course, but especially in the earphones, so the runner looks (mostly) ahead to avoid tripping. More than 200 missions are presented simultaneously with the user’s music. Finally, a typical training race is "scripted" with the theme of the game, replacing a sprint. The usual motivation to keep pace is replaced by ... "You have to go faster, because zombies are about to catch you!"

 

These are few examples among many. Gamification is increasingly present in the industry. Although it is not the answer to every problem or challenge, it can greatly contribute to the solution. Just find and develop the right approach to your goals.

 

Thinking of integrating gamification into your digital projects? Here are the key steps to success:

  1. Smart goals
    In order to keep the user interested; make sure your goals are specific, measurable, relevant, challenging but achievable.
  2. The rhythm
    To avoid creating anxiety or boredom for your user, provide a balance between the level of difficulty and skill level of the participant.
  3. Intrinsic motivation factors
    To ensure the long-term effectiveness, rewards should be based on intrinsic motivators such as competition, mastery and recognition.
  4. The practice of recovery
    Encourage users to retrieve information acquired in stages or previous levels.
  5. Individual ranking
    Create individual scoreboards and allow users to choose their own parameters, such as competing against strangers or friends, ranking by skill level, location or department.
  6. Variability
    Ensure variety in the reward system, both in order of introduction and types (known, unknown, bonus).
  7. User-centered
    Present information to the user following his actions (as opposed to before). Give him control over the learning environment and give him the possibility to choose different paths of learning.
  8. Encouragements
    Last but not least, inform the user of his progress, situate him in his journey and congratulate him when he crosses milestones (level completion or achievement of goals set at the beginning of the experiment).

 

For more information on the integration of gamification in your marketing strategies, let’s have a coffee!