What is Gamification.
There are many descriptions out there. I have described it in many ways myself. The simplest I have seen (or possibly made up) is this; the application of gaming metaphors to real life tasks to influence behaviour, improve motivation and enhance engagement.
“So it is about turning work into a game then?” I hear you cry. Visions of your employees sat at their desks, with Call of Duty like games on their screens, shooting at reports and running around 3D spreadsheets. Well, no. It’s not quite like that, or as easy to grasp initially.
How can it be used
Gamification can come in many forms, some can be of benefit to you and your employees and some can be used to improve customer experience and relations. All could be important.
Take a typical internal activity, training for a new system. Normally this will take one of only a few forms. Lecture style events, one to one tutorials, online notes, videos and so on. The trouble with all of these methods is they rely on old school teaching methods. You lecture the people in the room or you hope they read and digest the manual. They are one way teaching methods, even if you do have questions and answers at the end, there is limited engagement.
If you look at the way modern video games teach the player how to play, you will see that almost none rely on a manual. They have a few tutorial levels that get you to play increasingly complex scenarios, until the controls and tactics become second nature. This method of drip feeding the instructions during play, not only helps to cement it in your mind – it is fun as well!
Enhancing Learning through Gamification
We can apply the same theory to learning any new system. Microsoft have released Ribbon Hero 2, to turn learning Office into an adventure. You are taken through various scenarios that require increasingly advanced Office skills to solve. As well as the game being fun, you are also encouraged to go further with a simple system of achievements, progressively unlocked levels and an overall score. Your level and score are both displayed in the corner of all your Office applications. This is a great motivator to do one more level if you can constantly see how low your score is!
Throughout childhood we learn through play, it is human nature. We also learn faster by doing rather than watching. Combining these two will mean that employees, once through the training, should have a much deeper and sustained understanding of the system.
Enhancing User experience and cutting costs through Gamification
GiffGaff is a company that is often mentioned whenever gamification is spoken about. They are a mobile network provider who offers some of the most cost effective tariffs on the market in the UK at present. The way they have achieved that is by moving the burden of support and marketing to the users!
Users are encouraged to evangelise the product. By bringing new users on board they are awarded points. Points convert into real airtime credits, so it is easy to see how this could motivate a user into getting people to sign up – money!
Support is handled in a similar way. Users are encouraged to support each other in the support forum Helpful posts are then awarded points. Again, points equate directly to money off airtime.
These methods give the user a great feeling of involvement, community and ownership. They begin to form an emotional attachment to the network they have helped support and sustain. They feel pride in what they have achieved as part of the community.
Evangelists can be a much more effective way of spreading brand awareness than it may at first seem. Consider communities who will compete to spread your brand the furthest. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have enormous reach.
It’s not an easy game to play – but it’s worth it
It’s not all about trophies.