While the term hasn’t entered the everyday vernacular of the average individual quite yet, the concept is taking the business world by storm. For most, an initial reaction to the word usually garners visions of Angry Birds being launched through the air via slingshots, hurdling quickly towards a group of unfortunate looking pigs, or Pac-Man methodically chomping his way across the screen, narrowly dodging an altercation with Blinky, Pinky, Inky, or Clyde.
While gamification does take a few cues from iconic games such as Pac-Man and Angry Birds, don’t get too carried away with the gaming aspect (no matter how fun it is to visualize the demise of those insufferable porcine pests!). Gamification doesn’t actually involve playing a game at all. Rather it uses the principles of gaming to make an experience more fun and engaging.
So what is it exactly? Simply stated, gamification is the use of game mechanics and rewards in a real world, non-game setting in order to compel users to behave and engage in a specific way. Confused? Let’s break down that definition.
The term game mechanics refers to the components of a game—the mechanisms utilized by game designers to fashion and reward express activity among players, or in the case of a gamification program, customers, employees, or other users.
Examples of game mechanics being used today:
*Leaderboards–A display of the current names and scores of competitors
*Progress Bars–A graphic that brandishes the progress users have made in completing a task
*Badges–A digital emblem rewarded for completing a specific task
*Points–Awarded for engaging in desired behaviors
For our intents and purposes here at Badgeville, the real world, non-game setting the above definition refers to is that of a business. Businesses can use gamification to drive desired user behaviors that are advantageous to their brand, such as commenting on and sharing company posts, links, promotions, etc. Gamification can also be used to increase customer and employee engagement by making online experiences more personalized, connected and rewarding.
Why is gamification important?
It Can Make Customers Loyal:
Firstly, ever since the advent of the internet, particularly Google and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., there are more avenues than ever before for the proliferation of information, specifically concerning advertising and marketing. In the past, consumers had a very limited scope when choosing products and services to use, because access to mainstream brand alternatives was simply not readily available.
Nowadays, the exact opposite is true. Consumers are inundated with options, and have every opportunity to flee to the competition. It is harder than ever to acquire customers, and even tougher to retain them. Gamification combats these issues, largely because it fosters entertainment and engagement, both during the acquisition and retention of customers. This is demonstrated most effectively in two Badgeville case studies, for companies Autodesk and Marketo, respectively.
It Can Engage Employees:
Gamification is also relevant for companies internally, in respect to employees. Many businesses invest in social software or programs, with the intent of increasing employee productivity and collaboration. Unfortunately, the user adoption for these programs is usually very low, costing the company valuable resources and money. In fact, according to Forrester, only 12% of employees leverage social software to get their job done, essentially negating the weight of the company investment.
Gamification can be used to encourage employee adoption by making these social programs more personalized and relevant to their individual career goals and needs. Companies such as Deloitte have had great success in applying a gamified experience on top of an existing company platform in order to increase adoption.
Whether finding an effective avenue to attract customers and retain interest in today’s digital world is the issue to be addressed, or if it’s figuring out how to reignite productivity and determination within employees, gamification can help. After all, gamification is really just about getting more people to do more stuff, more often. So next time the hours fly by while playing the latest and greatest version of Angry Birds (Star Wars, anyone?), pay close attention to the actions, motivations, and rewards that comprise the gaming experience… they just might explain why gamification works. Oh, and watch out for those nasty pigs.