Gamification has been a buzzword that has floated around for the last few years. The term is newer but the concepts behind the trend have existed in our lives for years. We have grown up with games as central themes in our lives to help learn new things, show our talents, and progress through life.
Google recognizes the term of Gamification as starting in late 2010. It was used by multiple researchers prior to that but it was Foursquare’s, a social network based on physical location, introduction of badges and mayorships that brought the term to millions.
Games of Life
We have been experiencing gamification in our lives since we were very young. Many children and parents use sticker charts to track chores completed or books read. The Girl Scouts of America have used badges for years to display to others one’s accomplishments and ranking within the organization. As students progress to high school letterman’s jackets are still worn to show involvement in activities and seniority within the school.
The use of gamification continues to follow us into adulthood. Businesses have used gamification to build brand loyalty and repeat customers. Coffee cards have existed for years to keep customers coming back.
Gamification Goes Social
Foursquare built upon all of those gamed life experiences and made them social and mobile. Their use of gamification gave users a reason to share where they were with their friends. The use of mayorships to display those who frequented a business the most and social sharing to prove to a friend superiority, helped skyrocket them to early success in the social space.
Small bits of gamification have continued to infiltrate our daily lives. Toyota ranks a drivers gas mileage by trip on the dashboard of the Prius. Nike has infused their sports gear with sensors and integrated with mobile electronics to provide athletes and casual exercisers access to data about their workouts. Even allowing them to challenge digital friends to races and quests to complete goals.
Brands continue to use gamification in new and engaging ways. From shoe customization on Converse.com to search and find games within the Facebook newsfeed by M&M, brands use games to entice users to spend a little more time with them.
In the Business World
Businesses have also begun to embrace gamification to build a more knowledgeable and motivated sales force. By building integrations into their CRM systems, many businesses have moved company sales’ leaderboards online so sales teams compete in real-time to contact customers and sell more product.
All of this gamification has to have a purpose and many in the business world wonder about its long term viability to helping build a more engaged consumer or better sale’s team. Evaluating the business goals are a good place to start to see if gamification could work within your business or team. It can be a great tool for helping form habits, increase social sharing, and teaching users new tasks.
Implementation and Integration
Games have proven effective but their implementation and integration within current processes needs to be handled with care. Embarking on a quest to integrate gamification should be looked at as a long term strategy. As Dustin DiTommaso laid out in his 2011 article on Mashable.com, there are a number of different factors to engaging users with gamification.
First, ask you and your team these questions:
- What is the reason for gamifying your product or service?
- How does it benefit the user?
- Will they enjoy it?
Then explore the following questions so the gamification aligns with your business:
- What are your business goals?
- How do you get users to fulfill those business goals?
- What actions do you want users to take?
You are well on your way to creating an engaging strategy for your users. Long term success with gamification begins with a good understanding of how it will help users. They are familiar with many of the techniques already so don’t be afraid to try new things.
Are you currently using gamification in any of your web projects? Do you have plans for integrating the thought into any of your future projects? Let us know in the comments.