What’s It All About? 

We feel achievement – completing tasks, whether building a boat, going for a swim or a cycle. Gamification taps into this human characteristic, particularly if there is reward, recognition and progress. Gartner forecast that 25% of redesigned business processes will be using  gamification to implement them by 2015. Given that Forbes suggest 75% of staff (in the USA) are not engaged, then it’s easy to see how gamification might help. But it’s more than just staff who can benefit from gamification.  IMG_1260Wikipedia suggests gamification is: “The use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, Return on Investment (ROI), data quality, timeliness, and learning.” The phrase was created by computer programmer and inventor, Nick Pelling.

Who Uses Gamification?  Customers, Cashiers & Sales Staff Do

Customers – Nike+ is a  potent example of the power  of gamification. As its membership grows, the brand relationship strengthens, which, in turn, help to boost sales in the running category.  (They estimate that as membership increased by 40% in 2011 it helped boost revenues in the company’s running category by 30%).

Cashiers – Can gamification help cashiers who sometimes sit there and chew their gum aggressively? Target retail chain gamified the check-out process to help engage staff. As items are scanned the cashier sees red or green based on whether the item that was just scanned within the optimum time. They can also see their immediate score and compare it to the ideal time to see if they are “in-time”.

Salespeople – One thing sales people don’t like doing is the mind-numbing experience of entering data, filing reports into a database. So the system was ‘gamified’ by rewarding accuracy and frequency of data entry with the scoring of points complete with a leader board and monthly prize – morphing mundane into motivation by making a tedious task surprisingly exciting.

Gamification Disaster – the mistakes to avoidRainSoakedinnovator

Given that most staff are not engaged (I mentioned this in a previous post re the Forbes article suggesting that almost three quarters of US staff are not fully engaged), then it follows surely, that gamification could boost efficiency and effectiveness by even just a few per cent – which is sometimes the difference between profit and loss – survival and extinction – success and failure. 

However Forbes suggests that poor gamification design nullifies the potential and that by 2014, up to  80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives (because of poor design). Deloittes confirm that they also think that ‘80% of current  gamified applications fail to meet business objectives  primarily due to poor design’. So don’t leap into gamification (without understanding good design) like many business people who jumped into elearning (without understanding instructional design). It’s as if they felt they ticked that box ‘yes we do gamification’ or ‘yes we have a facbook page’. As John Horseley says  ‘remember not to confuse activity with success’. Being busy, ticking boxes might look good momentarily, but ultimately, you need substance.

Gamification    –   Getting It Right

First understand your gamers. Who is it that will engage with gamification, the most? We’ve already mentioned that customers, cashiers and salespeople are using gamification. Who are the heavy users?

So Who Are The (Heavy) Gamers?

  • Average gamer is 35, married, earns £23k pa
  • Games 12 hours a week
  • Owns two consoles, 18 games & takes a month to complete one game
  • Average Gamer rows with their partner twice a week over their past-time
  • Source: Pixwoo.com

Note this will change as gamification spreads to customers, call centres, cashiers, salespeople, other staff, suppliers

Virtual PR Smith


How To Succeed – 8 Key Gamification Success Factors 

  1. Narrative – that guides, challenges and changes as the player progresses
  2. Feedback – immediate re success or failure , and most importantly, progress
  3. Competitive – we like to compete with others – even in a  different location – make it social
  4. GUI Graphical User Interface – must be easy & fun to use
  5. Test with a view to usability, security, scale, local or global roll-out
  6. Rewards, Recognition, Awards – it’s a motivation programme (that involves changing behaviour, knowledge and or skills) NB major staff motivator is ‘progress’ + powerful motivator is ‘psychic income’
  7. Achieve business objectives (not just entertainment)
  8. Promoting Gamification  – avoid using the ‘g’ word & focus on bottom line results (e.g. nto 50% more reviews but 50% more customers likely to buy

Get gamification right and add in ‘psychic income’ into the rewards programme – now that could be deliver some interesting results. I’ll discuss ‘psychic income’ (non- financial income/rewards – that are highly relevant to a person’s interests) another time.



Business Benefits & Objectives Of Gamification

  • Customers – have fun, see progress, get rewards*
  • Staff – boosts product knowledge, processes efficiency, customer service skills and engagement
  • Business – boosts awareness of brand and/or features & /or benefits), recruitment, retention & advocacy
  • Business Cost Reduction (cost effective tool to embed key messages and boost operations efficiency)
  • Business Data capture – build your own customer database for future engagement and relationship building
  • Business Boost Customer Engagement = boosted revenues eventually

Engagement is Good but Avoid Sledge-hammering Branding Into ‘Viral Drivel’

* In a fascinating short article Aleks Krotoski suggests web site designers can learn from gaming by: “Pacing, stories and engagement. Pacing is probably the most crucial element, and games makers have mastered the art of the adaptive learning curve. They carefully construct experiences that take the player form the novice to expert, usually at a pace determined by the player. if the curve is too steep, the game is will haemorrhage players. if the game s too easy, gamers will will complain there’s no challenge. Web developers manipulate the the pacing in such a way as to bring the visitor in through touch points…. as the action continues, the story unfolds and gives te player something to work towards. Te aim is to make the player feel like the hero in charge of the direction of the experience and his or hers own interactive destiny. What this means for web designers is that we can expect to see sites transformed from linear pathways into series of discoveries.’  However Aleks warns against asking visitors to ‘engage’ too early since the results are clumsy attempts to co-opt the ways games encourage people to interact with properties by sledge-hammering branding into ‘viral drivel’.  But there are more subtle and nuanced ways to achieve engagement in interactivity, and most involve a spin on the old chestnut, collecting coins. It’s just that the coins become reputation, friends, freebies and enhanced access. And those dangling carrots are the real clinchers in the success of an interactive experience.”  Krotoski, A. (2008) ‘What web designers an learn from games‘, Guardian 21 Feb.

So gamification can be powerful, but remember, caution, care and considered structure are all required for successful gamification.

As John Horseley says: ‘remember not to confuse activity with success’