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Gamification: How Play Is Transforming Business

Corinne Boyd

By Corinne Boyd Digital Marketing Manager, Updated 17 May 2017

Turning your software solution into a game? What’s not to like? It sounds like a dream come true, but it’s hard to envision how something as functional and sober as software or a website can be turned into a game. 

What is Gamification?

Gamification in its broadest sense means to integrate game mechanics into something that already exists in order to motivate engagement and loyalty. It taps into the basic human desires and needs of the user’s impulses, and applies them to non-game experiences. The user is rewarded with instant, positive feedback.

Gamification isn’t about designing games; you can’t gamify from scratch. If something is gamified, it contains a core experience that is amplified by the same techniques game mechanics use to make a game fun to play.

Gamification tries to influence people’s natural desires such as competition, achievement, status, altruism and community collaboration. Users are rewarded with things such as badges and points, which satisfy the user’s desire for status. They can be rewarded for behaviours such as completing important tasks, which will incentivise users to get the tasks done more quickly, thereby improving your business processes. Another technique that can be used is to incite the urge for competition. If you display a leader board, for instance, your users will be engaged more out of a desire to appear on it.

Gamification and how play is transforming business

Game Mechanics

Gamification is built on some basic game mechanics, which have been demonstrated to motivate and engage users. Any combination of these can be implemented to accomplish the objectives of an organisation. These include:

Feedback - You can encourage users to continue or adjust their actions through responses such as onscreen notifications, texts, and emails. This can notify them of an award or trophy they’ve won, congratulate them on achieving a goal, promote a new reward or encourage them to take the next step towards an objective.

Transparency - You can show users exactly where they rank on the metrics that matter to them and to you. Individual and team profiles can display both historical and real-time progress. This can include leader boards that display who’s ahead and who’s behind, as well overall ranking on any metrics.

Goals - Setting missions and challenges gives users a purpose for interaction, and teaches users what’s valued and possible within the experience.

Badges - Badges function as evidence of your accomplishments or mastery of skills. This can be used to identify skills and expertise within a group as well.

Levelling Up - Levels indicate long-term achievement, and are used to identify status within groups. Reaching certain levels can unlock new missions, badges, activities and rewards.

Onboarding - Games teach you, or should teach you, how to play whilst you play. Simple missions accustom users to the game as they complete simple tasks that get gradually harder, instead of being confused by an unfamiliar interface or a complex, jargon-filled manual.

Competition - Comparing users with each other encourages them to complete goals and overtake their competitors.

Collaboration - Gamification can spur a team into completing larger tasks together, drive competition, and promote the sharing of knowledge with each other.

Community - A community provides a context for the achievement of goals, competitions and earning badges and points. Sharing achievements motivates other users to do better, as well as making them aware of goals, badges and rewards they might want to pursue.

Points - The number of points is a tangible, measurable evidence of a user’s accomplishments, and can be used to keep score on leader boards, establish status, or be collected to purchase virtual or real goods.

Types of Gamification

Gamification services can be sorted into three categories: Software as a Service, Custom Software and Hardware.

SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE

This is the most common form of gamification. These services are cloud-based, and let clients make use of gamification without having to use hardware or custom software. SaaS platforms are entirely web-based, so users can access the service from any device connected to the internet. They also usually allow for a lot of control with no coding or maintenance.

CUSTOM SOFTWARE

This kind of software is deployed on-premise, and tends to be set aside for custom solutions and specialty industries. Developers can create unique interfaces and mechanics for companies based around their unique workflow and requirements, and some even provide comprehensive game design.

HARDWARE

Though SaaS is usually software-based, some solutions integrate hardware into their gamified product suites. One example of this is a physical rewards card, which rewards points for scanning the card at a particular location.

Benefits of Gamification

1. ENGAGEMENT

This is probably the most important measure of success for gamification. When you engage users, there is a greater likelihood they will use your products more and return to your website or business. They are also more likely to tell people they know about your product or service, either in person or over social media. Gamification improves the user experience just by virtue of being fun, as games naturally are. The standard engagement metrics are: unique visitors; page views per visitor; time spent on site; total time spent per user; frequency of visits; depth of visit; participants; and conversions.

2. LOYALTY

If users are engaged, and incentivised to use a system through the enjoyment of playing a game, they are more likely to develop a sense of allegiance with your company and product or service. This means not only more usage and engagement, but that they are more likely to pick your service over competitors’.

3. BRAND RECOGNITION

Brand recognition has strong links with engagement and loyalty. Social sharing and recommendation is a vital part of attracting customers, enhancing your brand and spreading your message. If you integrate social media platforms with gamification applications, then companies can persuade users to share their experiences and flaunt their rewards and achievements. This essentially incentivises users to advertise your business for you.

4. INFLUENCE

Gamifications can also let you influence users’ behaviour. You can get people to visit a page you wish to emphasise by incentivising it or building unique content such as a quest in order to promote it.

Gamification is transforming business models by inventing new ways to extend engagement, forge longer relationships, and boost customer and employee loyalty. It is effective by taking advantage of the motivations and desires innate in everyone for community, feedback, achievement and reward.