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It Really Is All Fun and Games

April 7, 2012

LaunchPad has been involved in recent months working with clients as well as in our own projects to build game-like incentives into product offerings designed to bring fun and, ultimately, deeper engagement.  If you are like us, you probably have been hearing a lot lately about gamification.

Gamification is the use of game design techniques[1], game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. Typically gamification applies to non-game applications and processes, in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used. Gamification works by making technology more engaging[2], by encouraging users to engage in desired behaviors[3], by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, by helping to solve problems and not being a distraction, and by taking advantage of humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.[4]  – from wikipedia- read more.

At its most basic level, gamification includes these elements being built into web-based product experiences:

  • the concept of  progress,
  • the concept of  status, the measurement achievement within a group which also serves to quantify one’s reputation
  • the concept of rewards/recognition is a way to present status such in contrast with others competing in the group while also

You might recognize gamification in many consumer web products.  Perhaps the most prominent example is Facebook’s likes and the notion of friend counts.  Some readers might be surprised, however, to learn that nearly every corner of the web- even the corporate enterprise- is in the process of being gamified.  In recent conversations with mobile app developers we are learning of a title wave of projects for big companies looking to gamify their employee experience.  Here’s a quote for a Gamification industry executive…

Companies large and small are beginning to see a massive opportunity to leverage game mechanics in the enterprise to engage employees in initiatives and applications to get better work done faster – to increase productivity in a way that actually motivates, engages and retains their employee base.

Here’s an example. Imagine opening up Salesforce.com and seeing a mission titled “President’s Club.” To earn the “Presidents Club” award, you need to complete the following missions in Salesforce:

- Hit 110% of quota

- Close 5 opportunities worth $150K or more

- Add 10 new accounts

- Enter 5 new C-Level contacts with complete records

- Be one of the first 5 people to complete the above missions

The employee would not only have a clear problem to solve, but, in real time, can track the progress he or she is making, right in Salesforce.com, without the need for any manual tracking – its all automatically being tracked as work is being done. That progress is completely transparent to others in the company, bestowing a degree of status compared to those who will also be competing for the President’s Club reward. Most business leaders would love to have their employees focused on and completing those missions in the enterprise software tools that the company has invested time and money in deploying. They clearly map to business results and smack of productivity.   -read his post here.

And here is another recent post filled with examples of how companies are gamifying within their organizations.  And one more here written from the perspective of a millennial on why they need gamification at work to keep them engaged.

At its most basic level, gamification takes place when game mechanics are implemented onto a non-gaming activity to provide or encourage user enhanced interaction. Sometimes, gamification is part of the product experience.  However, often gamification is not part of the product offering.  Instead, it is part of a marketing strategy designed to bring a fun element that provides an enjoyable peripheral experience.

Many times gamification is about setting goals and establishing a path to achieve them.  Every time a user reaches a goal, it is psychologically satisfying because their actions accomplish something (such as through a reward, badge or achievement). This gives the user positive reinforcement for undertaking an action, and offers an incentive to interact further.   When done well, gamification can lead to increased loyalty and user engagement with your site or brand.   This path to increased rewards and recognition can lead to higher engagement and loyalty.  When the gamification system offers a badge or achievement mechanism for example, it creates reasons for users to brag or compete with their peers or improve their personal best. For example, a leaderboard is an obvious means to broadcast top achievers and fuel competitive juices.

There is a great deal of great info being published every day offering advice and insight on how to incorporate gamification into your product and/or marketing strategy.  We will be sharing the best of what we see on an ongoing basis via this blog, tweets and our Facebook page.   But to close this post out we wanted to share two thorough primers on the topic just published.

The Principles Of Gamification” from Branding Magazine offers some excellent insight on gamification as strategy.

Rules for the Attention Economy

Here’s the truth. Game mechanics are the simple rules for the attention economy. If brands want consumer love and attention, they need to be prepared to live and die by the principles of game. Brands are quickly understanding that while traditional advertising (on any platform) sets or raises expectations, it is an increasing digital or interactive responsibility to pay off, prove, or deliver on those expectations or promises. In the world of a brand – this exchange is proving to not just affect perception, but other, very tangible results like churn, incremental purchase, and new sales from word of mouth. Yes, the increasingly digital world is where this gamification is a viking.

So, what is it about some brand-led games that make them so much more successful than others? What separates a Nike + from some pedestrian rewards-points offer? What was so magical about the McDonald’s Monopoly game? When it works, the game mechanics or brand narration can almost become invisible. When you are motivated to act, and the individual mechanics just become part of the game. When we’re doing it right, these principles are usually what you’re not seeing:   click here (to see the rest of the piece) for an in-depth listing of how game mechanics and brand narration can combine as a powerful engagement force.

26 Elements of a Gamification Marketing Strategy”  offers “an A-Z guide of 26 elements you should be aware of when you consider a gamification marketing strategy for your business.”  It describes the ways in which people interact with a game such as  an introduction to Richard Bartle‘s four player types: Achievers, Explorers, Killers and Socialites.   The piece goes on to detail, as the title suggests, 26 aspects of gamification strategy and or execution that might apply in both product and/or marketing implementations.  Read more.

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