Intoduction to Gamification - future concept for applications

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Continuing the last post about being a Technology Junkie, I would like to introduce to who is not familiar with a rising trend called gamification.
As I mentioned in Technology Junkie post, the product manager must be up to date with technology innovations and trends, however gamification is not a technology but rather a design concept.
Gamification means you take your product or service and bring it to a point where it gets fun using it like a game (from here it gets the name...) by applying game technic and thinking.
KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caufild & Byers): "Ultimate way to engage a new generation of audiences"
Gartner: "50% of Innovation will be Gamified by 2015" - what do you call a trend if not this?!

Check out this graph to get an idea of the rising interest in gamification:

According to Brian Burke, an analyst at Gartner, “Enterprise architects, CIOs and IT planners must be aware of, and lead, the business trend of gamification, educate their business counterparts and collaborate in the evaluation of opportunities within the organization.”

How is gamification implemented :
"Enterprise architects must be ready to contribute to gamification strategy formulation and should try at least one gaming exercise as part of their enterprise context planning efforts this year".
Badges - A virtual sign for accomplishing something, for example a gold/silver/bronze medal for forum users according to their participation and quality of answers. users will put more effort if they know they are close to earning a badge. (Yahoo! research)
Momentum - keep your users do what they have been doing so far and not less by being an effective motivator.
Bonuses - rewards for doing something right after it has been done.
Encourage productivity - the game convinces the player he is enjoying the game and wants to continue playing over doing something else.
Cascade exposure - expose the user to small segments of information to have him adjusted to them and only then continue, like game levels.
Community collaboration - All users involved in achieving a common goal by each contributing something until it adds up to the final goal. for example answering a question in a forum.
Countdown - think of car racing games where you have a lap-time you need to beat. you are focused on the time target and focused on not exiting the track in the tight curves to finish the lap successfully.
Discovery - Everyone loves to explore and have new things revealed to them, any element of surprise will leave a certain impact on the end user, take for example a productive "hallway-talk" in your office corridor - you didn't see that conversation coming until it happened and BAM you managed to close a long-open issue in a matter of 2-3 minutes.
Free Lunch - Get something thanks to someone elses work. Groupon will enable a discount deal if at least 100 people will sign up for it.
Renewed content - same general idea with new content. a survey which keeps changing questions.

Gamification has more concepts and the above just shows the beginning.

Examples of gamification in applications around the world :
Groupon: Free Lunch,  Renewed content, Cascade exposure
StackOverflow: Badges, Community collaboration
StumbleUpon: Momentum, Community collaboration, Free Lunch
TurboTax: A tax refund program that walks the user through the boring process of tax refund like a GPS - step by step at every turn, uses badges, cascade exposure, momentum.
WeightWatchers: The program uses points, virtual rewards, goals with milestones, leader board, etc.

By using gamification, the organization can benefit from larger engagement rates, higher working performance, accelerated cycles of product flows like question solving and feedback, lower bounce rate, grouping people to achieve a common or organizational goal, increase adaptation etc.

If you are still skeptic about gamification (how can that be possible ?!!?!?) here is a study done at the University of Maryland about "The Facebook app economy". It describes the effect of Facebook and Facebook applications on US economy, where companies go toward gamification to engage their customers.

There are lots of aspects to consider in gamification ,hence, I promise to write more about this in the upcoming posts.