GAME CHANGER! HOW GAMIFICATION CAN TURN WORK INTO PLAY
What would motivate you to do a task you didn’t particularly want to do?
It’s a difficult question to answer when you don’t know what the task is – or what the consequences of not doing it might be.
Suffice to say that we’re all motivated by different things, but there are some natural drivers which are common to us all.
These include our desires to:
- Socialise - Learn - Compete - Achieve - Have fun
Increasingly, digital designers are making use of these motivational factors, integrating techniques developed by the electronic gaming sector to take user engagement to a whole new level, and improve the effectiveness of online solutions like websites and apps.
It has given rise to a new (and not especially pretty) verb: To ‘gamify’: The process of adapting a task so that it takes on the form of a game.
An article in the Telegraph newspaper earlier this year looked at how a new generation of fitness apps is encouraging users to work out by using story lines and gamified rewards – as opposed to the traditional, masochistic approach to getting in shape. The same article highlighted a social experiment conducted in Sweden several years ago, where commuters were presented with the option of riding an escalator or walking up a stairway which had been transformed into a giant musical keyboard. The result? 66pc more people than normal chose the stairs over the escalators! A perfect example of gamification in action. (Read the full article and watch the video here)
The principle of using play to make light work of chores or learning is one that will be familiar to any parent or teacher, but it can also have applications in the business world. Used in the right way, gamification can be a powerful business tool; it can transform employee training programmes, and it can also form part of a marketing strategy, helping an organisation to improve customer engagement, and build loyalty.
How you might choose to use gamification will depend on your unique situation, environment and objectives, but there are a number of key mechanics that designers can draw from when looking at gamifying a process. Here are just a few of them:
Setting goals gives users a reason to interact, and they also demonstrate the parameters of the process or experience.
Award badges and points
Recognising achievements by awarding badges makes users feel valued and adds to their motivation levels. Points can be awarded for activities to determine ranking and used as currency to buy virtual or real rewards.
Give real-time notifications
On-screen messaging can be used to interact with users to keep them fully engaged. Typical notifications might include a message of congratulations on successfully achieving a goal and encouragement to progress to the next step.
Develop a sense of community
Creating a dynamic environment where users can share knowledge and information, and see how fellow users are doing can help to increase participation and engagement levels.
Having users work together to achieve goals can be an effective way to drive participation. Individual users will not want to let fellow users down.
These are just a few of the techniques that can be used in gamification, but they will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever played an electronic game.
Gamification works because it leverages the instinctive motivational desires that none of us are able to resist – the need to be part of something and to be rewarded for our participation.