It seems that everywhere we look, we’re seeing ten top tips for boosting productivity… 4 ways to supercharge your workforce; 7 strategies for optimising your workflows. Invariably, these posts will be written by someone with no real understanding of their industry; top-level look featured in Forbes or the (nicely hidden) blog page of a company trying to sell you something.
It’s, to be blunt, a problem. It means that for everyone who is actually trying to educate themselves, there’s a real barrier to finding insightful information. So, let’s rectify that with a look at gamification.
First of all – what is it?
Have you ever played a videogame? Crash Bandicoot? Tomb Raider? Space Invaders? These little bits of software are designed to be as entertaining as possible – ranging from the colour schemes used, to the leader boards and the musical scores. A far cry from the origins of the industry, video games now represent an industry that can compete with Hollywood.
In the first 24 hours after launch, Rockstar Games’ latest Grand Theft Auto offering made more than $800m worldwide – becoming the third best-selling game of all time after Minecraft and Tetris (I know, right? Tetris?). The game has now reached over $6bn in worldwide revenue. In comparison, the latest Avengers movie – Infinity War - took $630m in its opening weekend.
It’s clear that games are doing something right; keeping users engaged and coming back for more is an effective strategy.
Gamification is taking that strategy and applying it to a business. It can be used for all manner of things, from creating greater levels of engagement, to driving sales and even cultivating a culture of greater learning. When you’re hiring staff, for example, it can take the place of psychometric testing. Instead of having people fill in long boring forms where they stress and gnash their teeth, through gamification, choices can be logged as they solve challenges holistically… without feeling like they’re being tested.
How can it be used?
Gamification is one of the strategies we used with our client ECOED – an app designed to put across a serious ecological message to the younger generation… the challenge was doing it in such a way that we didn’t lose their interest.
In practice, we created a community-focused game – with users playing against others within their locality. The users of the game could challenge their friends to get the high-score… all while becoming more knowledgeable about environmental sustainability. For other businesses, it takes the boring and makes it interesting through the application of key principles.
How can it help?
Did you know that 70% of business transformation efforts fail because of a lack of engagement? It’s a staggering figure… and one that comes about from a real lack of understanding. Just because this transformation is important to the people at the top of the pole, it doesn’t mean this enthusiasm trickles down automatically. The change needs to be, above all else, easy. The name of the game is undoubtedly engagement. It’s through this that employees can be aligned to business goals, and following this, encouraged to actively drive these requirements themselves.
In early stages, as with the majority of new technical innovations, the hype around gamification was huge. It’s in no small part due to the media culture around new releases… specialists feed on the ‘new’ and attribute qualities to the ‘next big thing’ that may not be accurate. This means that, in the early lifecycle of the gamification process, a large number of implementations failed… stellar client expectations and unscrupulous installers are a bad combination for long-term efficiency.
Today, however, we see a different picture entirely – one led by real-use cases of gamification in business. Executives now have a better understanding of what gamification can actually offer, and moreover, the IT support able to bring gamification to said business is more experienced. The industry has matured to the point of usefulness.
So, what is gamification? It’s in no way a silver bullet. What it is, is a strategy for greater understanding. Used correctly, it can lead to engagement and more effective learning in business. The challenge for businesses is finding out how best it can be integrated.