Have you ever heard of “gamification?” It is defined as adding games or game-like elements to everyday tasks in order to encourage participation. It pops up in a lot of things these days, including simple children’s games online that actually teach the bare basics of coding.
The concept of using games to encourage learning and collaboration has a definite place in the education system, but it has also made its way into businesses. It’s not to say that gamification in business has been a rousing success, but it has been used as a means to increase productivity and motivate people.
The history of gamification
Gamification as a concept has been around for about a hundred years, in varying ways. A paper by Mark J. Nelson in Mindtrek (an annual international academic conderence) cited an early example of the gamification of work existing in the Soviet Union in the early 20th century. It would later reappear during the transition from the 20th to the 21st century, this time as a concept to incorporate game-like mechanics to non-game tasks and incorporate a more playful setting in workplaces.
The term ‘gamification’ was coined in 2003 by Nick Pelling, at a time when people were floating the idea of using the tech industry’s gaming ecosystem to forge a link between other industries. This was known as the Serious Games Initiative, and is active to this day.
Where it exists
It may surprise you to consider the rewards programs in credit cards, or the loyalty programs people participate in as forms of gamification. In its current form, gamification is applied to marketing, customer engagement, employee performance and development, and the list continues to grow.
At a certain level, using the concept of gamification in businesses means that the people operating the business will need to change the way they think about how things work. The best use of this, according to tech research firm Gartner, is to entrench employees in the thought process and the benefits of changing it. Something that Gartner has predicted will be at the forefront of worker training by 2020.
The bottom line
Gamification principles can be used by businesses to affect their employees and the way they do business. The core concept revolves around aligning an individual’s perception of success to a group, and, therefore, to the company as a whole.
The fact that gamification works by applying game mechanics – such as an achievement and reward protocol – to a work structure, means that any business that wants to use gamification as a means to grow will want to look at the “game” they want to build around their business.
Games have stories – a narrative by which players, or the company’s employees and consumers, in this case – that serve as their journey. A good narrative is what keeps people hooked and invested in a business. Determine what you want that story to be, and provide a clear pathway to it.
As gamification becomes even more mainstream for both businesses and consumers, it is important to remember that when done correctly, it can produce results that last a lifetime.
The promise of gamification means being able to completely transform a business model, gain longer term engagement, and drive loyalty to the business. The right narrative, the right mechanics, and implementation will go a long way toward the success of a business that uses the concept.
Miggy Castañeda writes about personal finance for MoneyMax.ph, a financial comparison website aiming to help Filipinos save money through diligent comparisons of financial products.