Growing Popularity of Gamification
I’ve heard it from Unity Technologies, Gabe Zichermann and Gamasutra: 2011 is the “Year of Gamification”. For anyone who is still unsure about the term, Gamification is very different from using serious games. Games are often story-driven, challenging activities which engage the player intellectually and the implementation of serious games is applying these challenging, intellectually engaging activities to a specific learning outcome. Gamification, on the other hand, is taking game-like tools such as point systems, trophy collection and competition and applying them to something that is not a game, and may or may not have a specific learning outcome. Often times, gamification is used in reference to game-based marketing or an app that is available once you purchase a specific product.
Our own Tyler Vogel mentioned gamification in an earlier blog, posted in March, about a month after Gabe’s “Year of Gamification” presentation. Tyler said that the concept of applying game-like mechanics to non-game activities has been around for a long time in both teaching and training. Some gamified applications were actually published anywhere from three to six years ago.
I believe the renewed interest in the term, Gamification, came from the new advances and popularity in social networking technology and its applications (apps). Whatever the reason for renewed interest, the corporate training, marketing and gaming industries have identified it as the new innovation of 2011.
Gamified apps are fun, and a great way to pass the time or track your own progress in something whether it’s dieting or shopping. Check out some of these cool examples of gamified tools:
Nike+, developed for Nike in 2006
Health Month, developed by Buster Benson in 2010
Mint.com, developed by Intuit in 2007
Kahn Academy, built by Salman Khan in 2006
My Leaf, developed by Nissan specifically for the Nissan Leaf
Barcode Hero, developed for Amazon by Kima Labs in 2010
Play Nice.Ly, developed as a social bug tracking software for technology companies
(if you would like to see more about gamification vs. games, I found out about these apps from this presentation)
These applications have reported increasing engagement, and to be honest, I love using Mint.com and would have Barcode Hero if only I had an IPhone! I believe the commonality in these gamified applications is their simplicity, their ability to share information with other applications like Facebook and Twitter, and an almost “relaxed” feeling about them. Apparently, I am not the only one who believes this. Saatchi S, a marketing research agency, actually performed a study on about 2000 individuals to determine what consumers expected and wanted from gamification. The results are available on slideshare, here.
They discovered that people who use these social applications use them because they are a good way to fight boredom, and love finding discounts and winning prizes from the companies hosting them.
And why not love game-based marketing tools? If you're already using them when you have free time and would like to do something quick and fun, why not have the chance to win something while you’re at it? Either way, social media applications and their gamified abilities are going to have a very important role in marketing. The means of using gamified applications for marketing can translates to most industries which rely on community involvement: social change and volunteer organizations, consumer retail markets, employee training, clubs and social groups, public and government relations, entertainment, and many more.
Is gamification the future of gaming? No. Gaming is a completely different 'animal' from gamification. Applications like the ones mentioned above do already exist within the gaming industry (like the Play Station Network) where badges are collected; but they exist as a business model and marketing tool.. Gamification is the future of communicating and interacting with each other, and could close that massive gap between previously ‘untouchable’ organizations and individuals. To imagine the possibilities of gamification, look at the variety of people, groups and companies who now use Twitter.