Modern gamification rules to up your customer engagement

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More than 50% of Organizations that Manage Information Processes Will Gamify Those Processes” Gartner, Inc (2011)

I have to admit it, the internet is a wonderful thing, especially when you are just meandering along, following random links, not specifically looking for anything. And BOOM, you see something that looks interesting, and you get sucked into a subject, you had not expected to be sucked into. That happened to me this morning – all of a sudden, I was sucked into reading about Gamification of business (both in the world external marketing and internal support). I was fascinated – I remember reading about game theory a few years back and now here was this information about using the idea of “games” to engage our customers and employees. I guess at the end of the day, all of us are “gamers”.

First a definition and background …

Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. Gamification taps into the basic desires and needs of the users impulses which revolve around the idea of Status and Achievement. Source:

Gamification was a term that was first coined in 2003 by Nick Pelling, but did not gain popularity until 2010. The term gamification began to gather interest and a following in 2010 when companies such as Badgeville started using it to describe their behavior platforms. In 2011, more companies started developing gamification platforms as they became more popular. Source:

What makes up gamification? Well think of any game, from physical games to online games – what are the characteristics that make up your favorite games?

1. Rewards – we all like to be rewarded. Some games are either “win or lose” type games, others include points, some include badges or new abilities – but rewarding someone for something is key element in the use of games (and in gamification).

2. Competition – at our core, we like to compete. Games give us that competitive feeling, and in some games, we not only compete against someone (or something) but we also compete with the clock, creating a sense of urgency along with the sense of competitiveness.

3. Increase Difficulty – humans like rewards, we like competition – but we also get bored easily. Games (especially computer/video/mobile/online games) give us new experiences, harder challenges, and of course, better rewards and bragging rights. All to keep us engaged.

4. Feedback – the best games keep us informed of our progress – what we have done, where we have been, and more importantly, where we might be headed (but only a glimpse). Feedback, whether is through menus, onscreen dashboards, auditory – is an important aspect of gaming to keep the player pushing forward and not giving up too soon.

5. Social – as we have seen over the past few years, providing a social element is critical to the success of games – and it is critical to the success of gamification. Since we are not so connected to our social media, the success of Facebook and mobile games have proven that we humans like to brag about our experiences – especially when we are winning.

But how are Businesses using gamification?

The following are examples I have found (with links provided) to companies and organizations utilizing games, gamification, and gaming theory to engage their customers and/or their employees.

FoldItProblem solving applied to protein molecules. Result: over 240,000 players registered for the game and competing viciously against each other. A solution to the structure of the M-PMV was found in 10 days, creating a major breakthrough in the AIDS research field.

Recyclebank – Rewards users for doing everyday things that are good for the environment, such as learning how to cut back on water consumption or purchasing greener products – specifically, those with the Recyclebank logo.

Slalom Consulting – Seattle-based Slalom Consulting had 2,000 employees in offices around the United States. To improve internal communications, the company decided to create a mobile application that would help employees learn the names and faces of their colleagues. To encourage participation, the application included a “leaderboard” showing who had the highest scores, says CEO Brad Jackson. The tactic backfired. “We found that only 5% of the people truly cared about being at the top of the leaderboard,” he says. The prizes – gift cards – weren’t enough, either. One tweek, creating “teams” to compete – made all the difference. Participation went up to 90%.

There are any number of ways to apply it to your business – only your imagination is the limit. Here are links to three resources I found (but do a Google search to find your own).

So what are your thoughts? Let me know below in the comments.

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