Since you were a child, you’ve been playing games. From cops and robbers to snakes and ladders…games are entrenched in our growth and our culture. Ever ask yourself how people can spend hours and hours in front of their television lost in a video game? Developers have learned that the key to a successful game is the ability to have fun coupled with a system for incentives or rewards.
Gamification is defined as "the use of game play mechanics for non-game consumer technology applications, particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications." According to Bunchball, "People have fundamental needs and desires – for reward, status, achievement, self-expression, competition, and altruism among others. These needs are universal, and cross generations, demographics, cultures and genders." Educators have long since recognized the power of games in helping us learn and marketers are rapidly understanding the power of games in capturing consumer attention and interest. Here are just a few examples…
Gamification in Events
Nike held an event called Grid in London on October 22, 2010. Participants were invited to run (not walk or take public transit) across London, find the Grid phone boxes, punch in their unique game code. The more running they did, the more points and badges they earned. The person with the most points in each area claimed the crown of that postcode. Badges were also awarded for speed, stamina and insider knowledge of the streets.
Gamification in Marketing
Gamify.com is a business focused on bringing gamification and engagement to web clients. Their site is under construction. Now, instead of simply having an Under Construction site, they created a game – try it yourself. I was compelled to engage with their website simply because there was a game.
In 2007, Mint.com took a revolutionary approach to personal finance. They turned it into a game by making managing your money fun. Say, for example, you were saving up for a trip to Hawaii. You could choose this option from a menu, and as you save more funds towards your goal, your gauge fills up. You also get a financial score that encourages responsible actions (like avoiding high banking fees, etc). To date, the site claims to have more than 1.5 million active users.
Is Gamificaiton right for your Business?
As with any other externally-driven initiative your business takes the key is to determine if it will add value to your customers and whether its benefits are aligned with your goals. If so, build gamification around your priorities – do you want consumers to remember you, tell a friend, engage with your product? Build incentives that will promote your priorities.