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Fun and Gamification: What You Need to Know

Posted by Mark Hemmer on 5/20/15 1:00 AM
Mark Hemmer


In my best DMX voice: YOU THINK THIS IS A GAME?

Well, yeah. At least, it can be.

Gamification has taken hold in the business world and for good reason – who doesn’t like games?

For one, turning a task into a game can distract from the tedious. Early versions of this concept can be seen in commercial gyms across the country. Pulling a rope continuously might get boring (and crushes your arms), but if there’s a video screen and a mountain climber that reaches new levels as you pull/climb, now your mind cares about seeing that climber reach the peak – your screaming triceps take a backseat. Even more simplified: clothes get picked up off of the floor much more often if there’s a hoop over the hamper. It’s easy to see why: putting dirty socks where they belong is one thing, shouting ‘KOBE’ as you hit a fade away jumper is another.

For the enterprise, gamification can help in all kinds of ways:

Gamified apps can take training requirements and dryer educational concepts and make them more easily digestible (and way more fun for employees). Xerox uses a trivia game called ‘Qstream’. Employees compete with each other and learn best practices at the same time.

Equally important to internal uses, is leveraging gamification into a tool to drive more dollars. Ebay is a ubiquitous example of a business that’s used bidding wars to drive people to buy – and play. You can find many of the items available on Ebay other places. But, the allure of ‘winning’ the auction and possibly getting a steal of a price is enough to make it worth your time.

Even established employees can benefit from the goal setting and quick rewards that gamification can provide. Incentive programs have been working for years across all industries and gamification is the technological progression of that idea. The best part for businesses, is that gamification can often run on digital points and bragging rights – it’s less gift certificates you need to hand out for meeting benchmarks at work.

Before managerial eyes light up too brightly, there is a caveat. Gamification provides extrinsic motivation – and it has to match your intrinsic motivation. Plainly, don’t count of gamification to spruce up those long hours of entering data into a spreadsheet.

According to Lifehacker, “The best games tap into your intrinsic motivation while providing rewards. Take an app like Zombies, Run! as an example. It taps your intrinsic motivation to get into running by using badges and a story as extrinsic motivation. You want to start running, which is hard, but you also want to find out what happens in the narrative. If you're not interested in running, Zombies, Run! isn't going to magically change that. If you want to start running and you like zombie stories, Zombies, Run! gives you a little extra push.”

So if your team is intrinsically motivated (and they should be), gamification is a legitimate strategy that can propel your business forward now and set it up for the future. Engagement Alliance predicts that gamification will be a 5.5 billion dollar industry by 2018. With more and more companies contributing to that growth, it’s time to start playing games and get to work.

Interested in building a gamified app, but not sure where to start? Download this:

Grow Up Podcast

Topics: Games, Gamification, Strategy, Industry Trends

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