Gamification is the use of game mechanics and game thinking in a non-game context to solve problems and engage users. Gamification is used in processes and applications to improve learning, timeliness, quality of data, Return on Investment and user engagement.
A British inventor and computer programmer named Nick Pelling coined the word.
Although the term gamification was first coined by Nick Pelling in 2002, it did not become popular until 2010.
The technique quickly attracted the attention of venture capitalists, believing it to be a promising area in gaming. One of the reasons of this is the fact that half of the businesses that attempted to get funding for their consumer software apps had gaming as a prominent part of their presentations.
Several companies have developed platforms for gamification. In October of 2007, Adobe Systems Incorporated funded Bunchball, arguably the first company to offer the service of game mechanics.
They did this on Dunder Mifflin Infinity, a site related to the TV sitcom “The Office.”
Bunchball quickly attracted the business of The USA Network, Bravo, Chiquita and Playboy. BigDoor, a startup based in Seattle, was founded in June 2009. They offer gamification technology for websites that are not solely about gaming. $15 million in venture-capital funding was raised by Badgeville during their first year of operation in 2010. They offer gamification services.
There’s a great video course that Yu-kai Chou has put together about his principles of gamification. Here’s a preview:
Gamification techniques attempt to leverage a person’s natural desire for closure, altruism, self-expression, status, achievement and competition. A key gamification strategy is the rewarding of players who complete a desired task. Types of rewards can include providing the user with virtual currency, the filling of a progress bar, achievement levels or badges and points.
Another element of games that is able to be used for gamification is competition. Providing leader boards or making the rewards for accomplishing tasks able to be seen by other players are effective ways of getting players to compete with each other.
Making tasks feel more like games is another approach to gamification. Some of the techniques used in this approach include adding narrative, increasing the challenge, onboarding with a tutorial and adding meaningful choices.
Gamification is frequently used as a tool for encouraging desirable website usage behavior and for customer engagement. It is now very common to find gamification being used on social networking sites.
In 2010, DevHub stated that they were able to increase the amount of people who completed their various online tasks from 10 percent to 80 percent after they added elements of gamification. Stack Overflow is a programming question-and-answer site. On this site, people receive badges or points for doing various tasks, such as spreading links to Twitter and Facebook. Many badges are available for people to obtain.
When a person’s point total goes above a certain level, the person will obtain additional privileges. One of the highest privileges that is awarded is the ability to help moderate the site.
Applications such as QUENTIQ and Fitocracy utilize gamification to encourage people to improve their overall health and exercise more effectively. People are given points based on various activities that they do during their workouts. They advance levels as they accumulate points. People can also complete sets of related activities called quests to obtain badges for achieving fitness goals.
Social gaming is used by Health Month to let people regain points that they lost because they did not meet their fitness goals.
Gamification has also been used in an attempt to boost employee productivity. Arcaris, Playcall and RedCritter Tracker are all examples of management tools that are used as a means of improving productivity.
Games such as Foldit have successfully gamified crowdsourcing. This game, designed by the University of Washington, has people compete against each other to change proteins into structures that are more efficient. The science journal Nature published a paper in 2010 that stated the 57,000 players on Foldit provided results that equaled or surpassed solutions that were algorithmically computed.
Image metadata is generated by playing a game called the ESP Game. Google has licensed a version of the ESP Game called the Google Image Labeler to generate metadata for their own use. Wiki contributions were increased by 62 percent thanks to gamification used by the University of Bonn.
Experts believe that it is only a matter of time until gamification will start to be applied to employee training, government, transportation, financial services, health care and other activities.
Microsoft has released a statement that they will be using gamification techniques in the design of their Windows Phone 7 operating system.
Authentication has also had gamification applied to it. For example, using certain games can allow a person to learn and memorize a difficult password. Also, games are being looked upon as ways to increase the strength of a password over time. Managing and selecting archives is another way that people hope to eventually use gamification.
Use of Gamification in Marketing
More than 70 percent of companies on the list of the Forbes Global 2000 have plans to use gamification at some point for the purposes of retaining customers and marketing. For example, Yahoo!7, an Australian online and broadcast media partnership, launched its Fango mobile app in November 2011. The app had been downloaded over 200,000 times as of February 2012.
Customer loyalty programs have also started to take advantage of gamification. In 2010, custom Foursquare badges were given by Starbucks to people who checked in at more than one location. Discounts were then offered to people who eventually became a mayor at an individual store.
Gamification is also thought to have uses in the field of competitive intelligence. It could be used as a way to do market research on brand recognition by persuading people to fill out surveys. Many companies have integrated gamification into their Help Desk software. A SaaS-based customer support product called Freshdesk integrated gamification features in 2012. These features allow agents to earn various badges based on their performance.
Enterprise firms such as LiveOps, Deloitte, Slalom Consulting and IBM have also started to use gamification in some of their applications.