Mar 30, 2012
Gaming gets serious
Gamification is about taking the essence of games – fun, play and passion – and applying it to real-world, non-game situations. In a business setting, that means designing solutions using gaming principles in everything from back-office tasks and training to sales management and career counseling. Game mechanics lie at the heart of gamification. For example, achievement levels, point-tracking and bonuses are ways for desired activities to be recognized and rewarded.
Leaderboards and progression indicators can steer individuals to reach the next tier of performance. Quests and countdowns can help shape behavior – the former as a way to structure long combinations of tasks for a larger goal; the latter to motivate a flurry of activity within a finite, specified timeframe.
The “so what” for business is not any single one of these items. Instead, the value lies in finding the right combination of game mechanics that will resonate with stakeholders to drive performance.
One desired outcome of gamification is engagement – getting stakeholders passionately and deliberately involved with your organization. Interaction, collaboration, awareness and learning are related effects, where individuals are encouraged to make new connections and share information. The key is defining a powerful “win” condition that can work across a range of personality types, align with business objectives and foster sustained engagement.
Gamification can also enhance transparency and compliance, since games almost always operate within a well-defined set of rules. When aligned with desired behavior, gamification can help guide awareness and adoption of standard policies and processes, often operating in the background without the user’s conscious effort. Gartner predicts that one quarter of day-to-day business processes are likely to take advantage of some aspect of gamification by 2015. That number jumps to 50% for organizations with formal innovation management process.
For businesses working to manage generational workforce shifts, gamification can be especially helpful. Millennials already show a proclivity toward using gaming, social tools and emerging technologies in their day-to-day lives. Educational systems – particularly elementary and high schools – are also pursuing gamification in learning. But gaming is not just for digital natives. The average game player today is 37 years old, and 42% of game players are women.
The potential of gamification for the enterprise is likely to grow with time. Organizations that embrace the trend have the opportunity to gain loyal customers and find a competitive edge in recruiting, retention, talent development and business performance.
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