There is a lot of talk about gamification being a “fad” or even a “short term” solution. The truth is gamification is here to stay and we’re all going to be a part of it whether you like it or not.
We’ve been gamifying things for hundreds of thousands of years. That is we’ve been applying game mechanics to things to make them more engaging. When I was a kid and I’m sure if you’re reading this as a parent, long road trips with your kids can be frustrating at times. Heat or cold, the absence of a bathroom and boredom can lead to hissy fits, general annoyances and an intense barrage of questioning with “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”. What do we all do in this situation? We play. Twenty questions, the license plate game, I spy are all common road trip games that stimulate our minds. It engages us and makes a rather boring and sometimes horrible experience into a rather enjoyable one.
In a Tedtalks by Jane McGonigal titled “Gaming can make a better world”, the story of Herotodus and his gamification strategy that spanned over 18 years was very interesting. Essentially2,500 years ago in the ancient kingdom of Lydia there was in a great famine. People were suffering and the king decided he wanted to motivate particular behaviours using games. On one day the kingdom would eat. On the next day they would spend it playing games to forget about their hunger. This reportedly happened for 18 years and the kingdom survived. The game mechanics created an immersive experience for the people and engaged them in something other than being hungry.
It may seem obvious. Human beings play games. Some play for the simple fun of playing a game. That’s not gamification. Gamification is applying game mechanics to real life scenarios to motivate particular behaviours. We’ve always gamified things it’s just now we have a name for it: gamification.
Future Games – The Workplace
We’ve been gamifying and will continue to gamify. Gamification is in our past and it’s certainly in our future.
Fast Company recently touched on a new trend and that is gamification in the workplace. Mainly it will focus on employee engagement as opposed to customer engagement. Gamification is about creating an immersive experience and it can be difficult to do that with a customer. Employee’s however are invested in the company and are looking for feedback and are craving engagement. Both employees and companies want to feel like what they’re doing is relevant and building to something bigger.
Fast Company talks about integrated analytics. I’m a big sports fan and love analytics. I’m also a big gamification and business fan. Instant feedback is a great way for employee’s to know what they need to improve on and most importantly what they’re doing well. It’s just productive and motivating. Fast Company predicts greater sophistication in gamification analytics which there is a dire need for.
Future Games – The Classroom
Gamification is taking the education industry by storm. Students inherently want to learn but delivery of content can be difficult, especially when the subject is rather dry. Luckily when it comes to gamification, it works better when people actually WANT to do something. Most of the students these days grew up playing video games. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I passed grade 11 history because I played Assassins Creed 2. I was asked questions about the Coliseum, Da Vinci, and the de’Medici’s all of which are explored in the game. Engaging students isn’t about the content itself. Engaging students is about how you deliver the content. You essentially have to “market” the War of 1812 or the use of trigonometry. What better way than gamification?
Nick Morrison from Forbes magazine recently wrote “Gaming encourages many of the behaviours we want to see in our students, including curiosity and persistence. And tapping into those elements of game design that provoke almost superhuman levels of concentration can be a way to stimulate student engagement”. Gaming encourages behaviour and provokes superhuman levels of concentration. That’s the key. That’s the superpower that is gamification.
Gamification is love. Gamification is life. (I’m sorry if you get this reference)
When I say gamification is here to stay, I mean it’s here to take over your life. If you take a look at what the Fitbit is doing for the fitness industry. If we took a look at motivational and productivity apps on the app store such as Habit RPG. I just recently read an article that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is looking to gamification to engage citizens and workers. It’s even taking over our government! Well at least in Canada. Gamification is not just a buzzword. It’s the umbrella for something we’ve always done and always will do. That is, play. Life doesn’t have to be about getting down to business. Life doesn’t always have to be all work no play. In fact life can be all work all play. That’s why gamification is here to stay.