The premise and business case have been discussed threadbare for almost a decade. If you are still unsure, there are essentially three aspects that Gamification tries to address. Technical Debt from a user’s familiarity standpoint, reducing resistance in adopting new and emerging technologies, and of course, the single biggest challenge that every organization faces – user productivity.
Before we get to “how” gamification needs to be, a trip down memory lane. Super Mario! Collect points, clear the levels, and rescue the princess, or other games like World of Warcraft, Dark Souls, or even games like Candy Crush Saga and Farmville! Players win, feel accomplished, rewarded, and better when they fared well. They lose achievements or lives if they couldn’t clear one or more levels, sometimes the game – they back to the start.
The question is, “how” do these games succeed. The answer? The 6-point gamification rules as discussed in the research paper by Enes Bilgin. Yes! There has been research conducted into the success of gamification.
- Achievement – Well, brag-rights –player level, stats, special items/weapons/tools unlocked by overcoming challenges within the game.
- Challenge – Essentially, what stands between the players, their level, or achievements.
- Motivation – The kind of status or sense of achievement they get – what is it worth? Today players stream their game-play and earn money!
- Story – For Mario, it’s the kidnapped princess. For CS-GO, it’s terrorists. Every game has a plot, not unlike a movie, book, or even a soap opera. Motivation can be significantly improved if the story of the game gets the user hooked!
- Rewards – Could be anything from in-game intangible rewards or even those monetizable – there are marketplaces where you can sell your in-game loot for real money!
- Punishments – From the darkened screen that says “Wasted!” to loss of reputation in competitive gaming, punishments can work wonders in getting people to play “properly.”
So, what is Gamification? When businesses want to make learning a new technology, tool, or process easier, they adopt gamification, where they use the rules of gamification to turn the process of learning and the milestones into a game-like environment where there is a sense of achievement, competition, and reward for completion.
Coming back. How does gaming impact Engagement?
Applying the tenets of gamification can significantly change how the users/players interact with the system. For example, review contributors receiving badges and titles based on their contributions are significant motivators for users of an information dissemination platform, and a research paper on funware associated with TripAdvisor has shown that gamification has resulted in a significant improvement in the level of engagement with the users, thus translating into a sustainable business model.
In the case of Technology Adoption, gamification can directly impact the outcome of change management initiatives and, indirectly, the cost of achieving the outcome with a positive impact of almost 95% measured in research studies.
Simple examples of gamification include:
- Answering multiple-choice questions or quizzes to promote the learning objectives. Points earned could be translated into anything from badges and certificates to monetary benefits like gift cards, discount vouchers, etc.
- Scenario-based role-playing games where the player performs a task that requires achieving the learning objectives. The scenarios could be part of a larger episode or season-based game where players accumulate points and achievements across multiple mini-games or game stages for large-scale changes and transformations.
Getting it right!
However, the biggest challenge here is mapping the game to the gamification objectives. Some of the key considerations for change management professionals adopting gamification include:
- Knowing the audience and tailoring the game theme, plot, experience, rewards, and challenges to the player personas. Here, it is obvious that one size does not fit all.
- Keeping it real: While we have several fantasy plots and scenarios in games, the fundamental rules of storytelling still apply. There needs to be a balance between the narrative and the plausibility of the scenarios the players are put through.
- Choosing carefully: The options are diverse and almost too many. We must choose carefully and with our target audience in mind.
- Don’t Distract: It is easy to mistake the forest for the trees here – making sure the game is closely tied to the learning objectives is crucial!
For the entertainment, e-commerce, BFSI and fintech verticals, gamification is almost a necessity! In a world where differentiation is difficult, gamification bridges the gap between the desired and actual results. Gamification, while effective, needs to be thought through and implemented effectively. The KPIs of gamification really lie in, how well the new tool, product, or process is accepted, or rather how less there is resistance to it. Another indicator is to measure how much the usage increases as opposed to without gamification, how well the users feel engaged with the system, and of course, loyalty – how many of these users actually swear by what they use as opposed to other tools, or even competition!