Monday, January 16, 2012

The new trend that has the potential to change how we motivate ourselves

All the world’s a game.
(And all the men and women merely players.)

'Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my last hope.'

Why a Star Wars quote?
This is what has come to my mind when I started writing my blog about gamification. What is gamification? Gamification is a recent trend which uses video games design methods and techniques to engage and motivate audiencies in areas such as marketing, education, workplace or health.

(Then how is it connected to Star Wars again?
Well, just before last Christmas the latest MMORPG came out titled Star Wars : The Old Republic.
I found myself having played close to a hundred hours of this game in 3 weeks. According to my regular playing habits, it’s very much, though I have met people who played 200 hours or more (you do the maths, how much that is in a day). So I got really curious : what is this phenomenon that keeps people in the loop so much and for such a long time? What motivates them? So I started a journey into gamification, and I invite you to come with me.
And how is Obi-Wan Kenobi going to help us?
Like a sage, he guides us through the secrets of the 'Force', and help us understand the powers and techniques of the motivation behind gamification and how it could help improve many areas of life.)

'Learn about the Force, Luke!'

What is gamification?

According to Wikipedia gamification is the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences.
Gamification is a very new discipline, which is inspired by videogames design. If you have ever played a Facebook game, like Farmville, or any kind of online game, it is apparent that these games can wonderfully engage players, and can motivate to play more. But what are these motivational powers thatm motivate players to play on? As it’s the game designers best interest to keep the players playing, games are designed with techniques and methods, that enables them to keep their players.

What are the drivers behind gamification?*

  1.           Autonomy : players voluntarily play games, at their own pace, at their style of play
  2.           Progress to Mastery : games provide a unique way of learning to succeed
  3.           Purpose : an epic goal, to be a part of something larger than yourself

*Based on David Pink’s book Drive :

What principles are used to cater for the above needs?*

  •           Clear goals and rules of play (Autonomy, Progress to Mastery)
  •           A compelling narrative (Purpose)
  •           Accelerated feedback cycles (Autonomy, Progress to Mastery)
  •           Group tasks that are challenging, but achievable (Purpose, Progress to Mastery)

What are the basic human desires in play that gamification caters for?*

  •           Reward : the basic human need for being rewarded for our positive actions
  •           Status : to be able to show what we have achieved
  •           Achievement : to be able to be successful what we do
  •           Self expression : to be able to express ourselves, and be accepted as we are
  •           Competition : to be able to play and compete with friends and family or just others
  •           Altruism : to be able to give and share with others what we have

*(Gamification 101 whitepaper by Bunchball) (can only be downloaded after registration)

What are the techniques and mechanics of game design used to serve the above desires?

  •           Points : to reward desired behavior
  •           Levels : to acknowledge and celebrate success and progress
  •           Challenges (aka Trophies, Badges, Achievements) : missions to accomplish and rewards for doing so
  •           Virtual Goods : the means to spend your well earned points for creative expression or just to show off your status
  •           Leaderboards : for competing with others for the fame, designed for driving desired actions further
  •           Competitions : for competing with other players head on, giving a social edge

Wait, wait, wait Obi-wan. OK, I understand all this, but aren’t games for children? Isn’t playing games childish?
Well, partly true, but let’s examine why is that we think about it that way. Because children still have the time to play games, and their ’work’ to learn about anything is playing games. Adults have to invest much more time into everyday activities like work, chores and errands. However let me point out that according to research the average gamer (in the US) is 37 years old,  with average age growing and more gamers above 50 (26%) than below 18 (25%)!

What are the areas that can benefit from gamification?

  •           Marketing : to better engage with customers through game mechanics and techniques in an enjoyable and fun way
  •           Health : to celebrate and reward healthy living and working out and give an emotional boost
  •           Education : why isn’t education and learning made of fun and fame, instead of guilt and shame?
  •           Enterprises : we could really improve the workplace with the use of gamelike elements for better productivity and for a better workplace athmosphere
  •           Anything really : the list could go on, only imagination is the limit, and time will tell what else is worth gamifying

In true gamification fashion, I rally you to come with me on the epic quest of exploring gamification.

Achievement unlocked : Gamified. 

In the next post, you will find out the science behind the Force of Gamification.

What do you think?
How do you think we could harness the power of motivation behind game mechanics in real life?

About the author : Norbert Szigeti Csúcs is an online marketing, CRM and gamification expert with more than a decade experience working with global companies to create value. His latest endeavour is in the realm of gamification, as he does a lot of research at Aquilone Training and works with companies on the practical side of gamification to benefit their customers and employees.

About Aquilone TrainingBusiness efficiency development by training, coaching and organizational development, working through corporate organizational maturity modelling. 
Professional, rational, ethical.