What is Gamification?

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What Is Gamification?

Gamification is a strategy integrated to increase customer or user engagement. This is done by using “game elements, and game dynamics” in “non-game contexts.”

It’s awakening a person’s interest to do something for a certain gain —  whether explicit or implicit.

The idea is to create or do something that will catch the customers’ attention and encourage them to do things in exchange for some rewards.

WePlay.co stipulates that gamification has become “a buzz word since 2010″ and the more popular sites like Nike Plus, Zombies Run, Salesforce Rypple and Samsung Nation have successfully leveraged gamification in effecting customer behavior change.  That is, turning their customer from mere onlookers, or even “passersby”, to more engaged fans.

The “playful environment” allows the players or the customers engaging in the activity to be themselves, it’s like being a child all over — in a different setting though.  But being given the space and freedom to do as they please make the experience a truly rich one.

This makes them feel that they are in total control and are not dictated upon.  Thus, the human need to feel empowered is satisfied.  As well as the need to gain recognition or get rewarded from an activity that they have done.

Gamification.org defines gamification as “incorporating game elements and mechanics into non-gaming websites and software.”

The objective of gamification is to make nongame applications “more fun and engaging” and to influence the behavior of the participant.  The operative word there is “fun.”

To illustrate, Nike Plus has a Running app.  It is a chip embedded in Nike shoes used to measure the running activity of people.  The user can choose where to run and when or for how long.  All the Running app does is record the activity.  It is this relationship between the user and the “gamifer” that matters.

Although We Play mentioned that gamification became popular in 2010, it originated in 2004 when Nick Pelling coined the term gamification for Conundra Ltd, his consultancy business.  Nick Pelling’s business was involved in helping “manufacturers evolve their electronic devices into entertainment platforms.”

Conundra, according to their website will “help design, build and run industry partner programs around new collaborational business models.  They can also source, adapt, or co-develop games and entertainments.”

September 2010 served as the benchmark for the use of gamification by marketers and website product managers to engage customers and influence desirable behavior with respect to website to usage.

Examples of how gamification boosted the number of users abound.

DevHub is one site which enjoyed the benefits of gamification.  Their users’ numbers leaped from a measly 10% to an exciting 80 % after they infused gamification into their website.

RedCritter Tracker uses badges, rewards, leaderboards and ribbons into project management.

Stack Overflow, a Q & A website for programmers also uses gamification. Users are influenced and encouraged to act in a certain way like sharing links to questions and answers in Facebook and Twitter.

Australian broadcast and Yahoo! introduced Fango mobile app in Nov 2011.This allows TV viewers to actively engage in shows with the help of social networking sites, and help enliven viewer discussions.

Gamification may have been a boon to business and to those who utilized it, but it also has its share of opponents.  One of which is Ian Bogost.  He thinks it is merely a means to manipulate the unaware.

However, despite that, gamification has been successfully integrated in business and is used in the following areas:

Employee training programs
Health and Wellness
Online and in-person shopping
Primary education
Financial websites
Extreme sport activities
Loyalty or rewards programs
Social Networks
Call Center environments
Market Research

This reminds us of the old rule.  When it comes to advertising or marketing, what makes consumers decide to buy or engage are their brains.  But an appeal to the emotion is what catches their attention first, and make them give those products or services that second look.

Gamification is indeed a very good example of the rewards system theory. And for marketers and other online advertisers, understanding how they can fully utilize gamification intelligently will help in creating that influence that can potentially have long-term business and economic impact.

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