For today’s article, I thought I’d have a quick look at the concept of Gamification and open discussion to all of you about the subject. First and foremost, I am certainly not an expert on this subject, having only gotten some interest in the subject when I took it up on a MOOC course over on Coursera. The lecturer is certainly very credible, as he’s got his own book on the subject, which I would recommend getting as it’s a thoroughly interesting read. You can get his book, For The Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business over on Amazon for just £4.31 for the Kindle book or £10.99 for the paperback.
Gamification has given me a lot of food for thought, especially when it comes down to what I thought was standard business practice. It’s true, Joel and I have had many discussions about what we can do to make this GeekOut blog bigger and better. Whilst we ultimately will keep providing content, we’d love to implement some changes to the website, so I’ve been studying Gamification, as well as technologies.
Having played video games for practically my whole life, I grew up around the right era for this way of thinking. I grew up during the 90’s, where my first computer was an Amiga 500. I learned a lot about the internal workings of a computer thanks to that machine, as I was fascinated with the video games that were playable on it. Games such as Valhalla and the Lord of Infinity, Superfrog, Super Putty and Lemmings. There were also much bigger and more brutal games, like Mortal Kombat which also made its way to the system.
What’s interesting is how in a business, they want their employees and customers to be engaged – They want people to be happy with the services provided. They want people to be able to enjoy content without being told “just do this to get that result.” They would like to play. In comes the notion of play vs fun. The two are ultimately connected in some way, but the two aren’t one and the same. The lecturer of the Gamification course, Kevin Werbach, ultimately explains that we have fun in lots of ways: We see something trigger the way we want, that’s tantamount to fun… Yet it isn’t playing. Play is more spontaneous than that.
So what is the business purpose of Gamification? We want people to have fun doing the things they are doing. It’s a concept of changing human behaviour and ideas as to what something should be. An interesting point is that I have seen the reverse of this: I’ve seen a game make me challenge myself in ways I didn’t think I’d get from a game. I’ve wanted to break games heavily, see how they work from the inside. This is partially why I was so interested in the concept of a business applying game mechanics to itself. What about in websites then?
Some examples of Gamification in websites include:
Google: Page Ranks – You want to score highly on the Page Rankings, which ultimately is similar to a scoreboard.
Newgrounds: You can level up your account by doing certain actions on the website, which gives you abilities to whistleblow and more.
Stack Exchange: Yes, the worlds leading Questions & Answers tree of websites is ultimately a large game: From voting on other peoples questions and answers (to give them points), to getting badges of three kinds (Gold, Silver & Bronze). Not only this, getting a certain amount of reputation (points) will give you more features on the website.
So now I’d like to invite all of you to think about your day to day life and say: What do you consider Gamification to be in the real world? Have you studied Gamification before and does the topic of applying game logic to real world applications sound interesting? Have you done anything in video games that are somewhat counter-intuitive to the concept of playing a game? Finally, if you applied an element of game logic to your own website, what would it be and why?