Get in the game

As the communications world continue to search for new strategies and tools to eliminate the crisis of engagement companies are having with consumers and employees, the word gamification is increasingly becoming the topic of discussion. Gamification is about taking the essence of games – fun, play, transparency, design and challenge – and applying it to real-world objectives rather than pure entertainment (Palmer, Lunceford and Patton, 2012). More than just a buzz word, Gartner, the world’ leading IT research and advisory company predicted www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1844115 that 70% of the world’s top 2000 companies will be using gamification in some form by 2014.

An old but growing idea that has finally taken its place as an innovative engagement tool, gamification has some companies re-designing the way they work to include elements such as completing missions, competition, social interaction, status and rewarding achievement (BBC, 2012). Even more so, some organizations integrate gaming mechanics with their online marketing strategies to increase customer interaction. Last year Marketing Magazine presented their Top10 list of gamification executions www.marketingmag.com.au/news/top10-gamification-executions-13757/#.USr5oO1_SPs from around the world.

Currently an expensive way to play, gaming strategies have been used in the past by way of frequent flyer programs and loyalty programs, leaderboards and financial rewards to motivate sales teams. The difference today is the use of online and mobile computing technologies that not only enhance the gaming look and feel, and the interactive experience but also the collection of data on user’s behavior, a valuable tool for all types of organizations. These gamification strategies must be well thought-out, well designed and well executed to be effective. Gartner identified four principal means of driving engagement using gamification techniques:

1. Accelerated feedback cycles: Gamification increases the velocity of feedback loops to maintain engagement.
2. Clear goals and rules of play: Gamification provides clear goals and well-defined rules of play to ensure players feel empowered to achieve goals.
3. A compelling narrative: Gamification builds a narrative that engages players to participate and achieve the goals of the activity.
4. Tasks that are challenging but achievable: Gamification provides many short-term, achievable goals to maintain engagement.

Gamification may not be here forever but it is certainly the competitive engagement strategy that seems to be working. Many of us may already be engaged in the process through an employer or as a customer. As more and more organizations get in the game they will need to remember that the next trend is just around the corner.

References:

Fleming, N. (December 5, 2012). Gamification: Is it game over? BBC Future. Retrieved on February 19, 2013 from:
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121204-can-gaming-transform-your-life

Donston-Miller, D. ( May 0, 2012). 7 Examples: Put gamification to work. InformationWeek, the brainyard. Retrieved on February 18, 2013 from: http://www.informationweek.com/thebrainyard/slideshows/view/232901489/7-examples-put-gamification-to-work

Marketing Magazine (May 10, 2012). Top 10 gamification executions. Retrieved on February 24, 2013 from:
http://www.marketingmag.com.au/news/top10-gamification-executions-13757/#.USr5oO1_SPs and http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1629214

Palmer, D., Lunceford, S. and Patton, A. (2013). The Engagement Economy: How gamification is reshaping businesses. Deloitte Review. Retrieved on February 24, 2013 from: http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Insights/Browse-by-Content-Type/deloitte-review/c7cee86d96498310VgnVCM1000001956f00aRCRD.htm

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8 Responses to Get in the game

  1. kcn13 says:

    Hi Audrey,

    Believe it or not, gamification was my second choice for my blog post and I had just finished reading the Gartner study as well as few other articles on the Gartner.com site and a few media outlets.

    One of the points that I gathered from the readings is that gamification has promise as a marketing tool but still needs to mature, so the application of gamification and its potential failure, really depends on how marketers approach the development of such tools. Gamification has to fit nicely into an overall marketing strategy and can’t just be a “fun thing” that is developed without thoughtful consideration of how it can augment other marketing tactics and mediums. Another thought that came to mind for me in researching this topic is that the development of gamification marketing tactics will require marketers to build a very close working relationship with IT and developer partners. We’re going to have to get techy to make this work long-term!

    Thanks for the post!
    -Kristy

  2. cmcoleman says:

    Interesting post. I’d never thought of myself as “Playing a game” when I work to get my punches for sandwiches, etc. Great post and definitely something to think about when creating marketing programs.

  3. Hannah Martine says:

    It’s important to remember, as you said, that gamification is only one tool within a multimedia toolbox available to companies. Like other types of social media, it must be used in an appropriate way — and may not be appropriate for every company. Nike did an excellent job of integrating gamification into its products with Nike+. The game of Tag makes running a social activity and promotes fitness. I was a bit more leery about the idea of the game to help teach depression management techniques. During a recent campaign to promote Suicide Prevention Month to warriors who are a part of Wounded Warrior Project, the marketing team and myself tossed around many possible ideas, including a game for the children of warriors; in the end, however, we decided that we did not want to make light of the idea of suicide, and that a game was not the best medium for communicating this message. I would be interested to hear what kind of further feedback the creators of SPARKS have gathered.

  4. lynnhoff17 says:

    Audrey:

    Interesting post. Any time I’ve heard about gamification I’ve assumed that my organization–a non-profit association–wouldn’t have use for it because it would be too informal for our brand. But reading about how the neuroscience folks, Sparx and banks are using it, I am giving it more consideration. There’s something about the word “game” that prompts certain assumptions of frivolity about it, but perhaps if I focus on motivation, momentum and meaning, I can find a way for gamification to help meet the objectives of even for our buttoned-up society.

    Lynn Hoff
    Fall 2012 cohort

  5. milissa_douponce says:

    Audrey great post!
    Gamification definitely appears to be the ultimate in consumer or user engagement. As a marketing tool,an interesting concept to explore is does the extended duration that the consumer is experiencing the brand, product or messaging through gamification lead to a conversion or a behavioral change that ultimately leads to a sale? Especially with the high cost and resource investment required to implement gamification. One example of branded gamification that comes to mind is Jeep’s sponsored geocaching (http://jeep.geocaching.com/). Geocaching is essentially a real world treasure hunt where enthusiasts search locations using a map, GPS or smart phone(http://www.geocaching.com/) to search for containers called geocaches around the world hidden by other participants and report their exploits on social media. In the Jeep branded game, you had the opportunity to win a Jeep but I’m unclear whether all of the participants were Jeep owners or potential buyers. The game would certainly keep you engaged with the Jeep brand, but I would be interested to see what were the marketing benefits of the promotion to Jeep.
    Great topic!
    Milissa Douponce

  6. maasaran says:

    Great post Audrey! It seems like a good idea on the surface, for sure, to “gamify” mundane actions. It may diminish the seriousness of things at the workplace if everything is gamified, but perhaps certain marketing elements, like lead generation and signing up to email lists, etc, can be gamified or centered around a game-type task… that would be sneaky. And smart. I think.

    Thanks for the insight.

    Zeyad

  7. clionberger says:

    Great post Audrey!

    This is one more part of the wave of the future. What’s interesting is that in the K-12 area, we’ve “gameified” lessons a long time ago. The vision of our preschool program is “learning through play,” which includes games. My wife, a teacher, uses games all the time to reinforce key themes and conduct informal evaluations of student mastery.

    It’s no surprise, then, that other industries are starting to adopt the same “learning through play” mentality. Take a look at many of the exhibits at Epcot’s Innoventions. Most of them are games that are designed to teach as well as provide entertainment.

  8. lweekley says:

    Audrey,

    I know this blog is marketing-oriented, but your topic has great relevancy for internal communicators as well. Weighing the benefits and drawbacks of “gamification” has become an essential part of my job as a corporate communication consultant. No longer are games considered a communication and engagement tool appropriate to only the most tech-savvy clients with the biggest budgets. Nowadays, games are nearly always an option we consider as we write our communication proposals and plans.

    We especially like to incorporate gaming into employee communication campaigns as a fun way of testing audience comprehension. Games can engage audiences and reinforce messaging while providing valuable data that helps us measure the effectiveness of our communications (always important!) and identify knowledge gaps that could be targeted with future communications.

    But as Hannah and others have commented, gamification is just another tool in the box. It needs to be used with purpose. If it isn’t audience appropriate and doesn’t address strategic communication goals, it’s not a good fit.