In the last year or so as I was busy building our next generation of self-service support community product in my company, the question of users reputation came up many constantly from customers. I added the necessary activity tracking to app but was shy on exposing too much in the UI because I wanted to make sure I was doing things right. I did well to wait because as I started looking more deeply into reputation management around the web and what were the market trends in the field I stumbled on a world of opportunities under the name Gamification..
Gamification is the use of Game elements and Game mechanics in none game contexts.
You will find other definitions around the web but they all refer to the same core elements:
Points, badges, leaderboards, levels, etc..
Challenges, quests, transactions, win-state, etc..
Non game contexts:
Health & fitness, business processes, education, etc..
Think about it for a moment. Who doesn’t like playing Games? There are many research studies that have shown the positive effect of playing games on your self: Self-satisfaction, pleasure, sense of achievement, progression, sharing, socializing.
Games like World of Warcraft have cumulated over 6 millions years of playing hours by its players.. and it’s adding 3 Billions hours a week! That cannot be just because it’s fun.. The game mechanics of this type of games, WoW, Farmville, Halo, the Sims, etc.. are extremely powerful in engaging players, pushing them to overcome unnecessary challenges and spend hours and days on them for absolutely no other reward than pleasure or status..
Gamification is all about applying the same technics to other things than Games and hopefully generate the same level of engagement and fun for the users.
Applications of Gamification are almost limitless and despite the incredible hype around the term itself, it has proven to have enormous ROI. – If done right –
There are three major areas where I see Gamification could bring tremendous value:
This would be to help a user start a new thing: A trial of a software for example. But also helping users learn more about an existing product creating little games to learn. Onboarding can also be for new hire in a company, instead of just throwing videos and intranets at them, why not taking them through a journey full of challenges and rewards which will make the on-boarding more fun.
Application specific behavior:
In a Community product I want people to post questions, reply, vote, thank others, select best answers, share files and interesting posts, provide ideas, etc.. What kind of game like tools can I use to drive the expected behaviors? Gamification has many answers to this question.
Real life games:
Want to help your employees stay in shape? want to help save the planet from global warming? want to have employee know each other more? There are many examples of real life challenges that could be tackled through Gamification.
This is the first post of many about Gamification that I am writing but I believe it is very relevant to entrepreneurship and especially to the potential success it could bring to entrepreneurs who embrasse gamification.
I will try to go through several example for each of those three buckets so you can have some insights and ideas for your own products.