Within recent history, Gamification has been gaining stride in popularity and usage across almost everything we know or use. Websites and mobile apps are a great example of things that use Gamification techniques to promote user engagement.
Aaron Alexander is the Operations Manager for an enterprise level, internet marketing firm. They focus on everything from SEO, reputation management, content marketing, digital public relations, and social media marketing. We are thankful that he is also a gadget collector, long time gamer, audio engineer, overall avid geek, and was nice enough to give a bit more insight into how Gamification is changing the digital, and sometimes not so digital, landscape as we know it.
1.Why should people be interested in Gamification?
[quote]If you have a product, service, or idea, and you want people to engage, participate or share it, you should be interested! Gamification is essentially “User Engagement Techniques”. It is the application of gaming mechanics applied to non-gaming contexts. It appeals to human desires; like reward, status, achievement, self expression, competition and altruism.[/quote]
2.How does Gamification encourage users to come back for more?
[quote]Through the understanding of human desires, Gamification doesn’t force people to return, it creates an environment where people want to return. A huge component is the tracking of vital metrics and then using these statistics to give the user feedback. Things like achievement, status, competition, and reward create “Positive Feedback Loops” that reinforce positive user behaviors. Who doesn’t want to come back to something they are engaged in more thoroughly?[/quote]
3.What is a good balance of Gamification techniques? Can you overuse or not use enough Gamification techniques?
[quote]Some of the game mechanics that apply to our human desires are point systems, leveling, challenges, virtual goods, leaderboards, and gifting/charity. You generally want a good mixture of these mechanics and all of them are important features, that when applied correctly can truly increase user engagement. As with all gaming systems, they can be “gamed” if used incorrectly. It really takes a foundational understanding of what you have to offer, how you want people to engage with your product or service, and carefully build these mechanics to work together. You do have to be aware that when you create your Gamification system, you don’t reward the wrong behaviors. Say you reward people with a point for “commenting” and that goes to a leaderboard that shows where you stack against other commentators. You could create a situation where people stop commenting because the material was useful, and uselessly participate by commenting to only get points. This would reinforce a negative behavior, and likely be counter productive.[/quote]
4.How has Gamification affected the professional field? Good or bad?
[quote]I feel in the professional field of business, it has been an additional tool to use, and when understood and applied correctly, it is a great tool. Companies that use Gamification are engaging their teams through instant feedback and leaderboards, that show how well you are doing against your peers. That alone can inspire truthful and healthy competition between peers. Again, Gamification is an engagement tool and not meant as a tool to attract users.[/quote]
5.Where do you see gamification taking us in the future?
[quote]With companies like Bunchball and Badgeville, I see Gamification principles dominating sectors like enterprise business, education, social networks, apps, and websites that want highly engaged users. Due to it being a trending topic that takes more than an overview to fully understand and utilize, it will likely take successful results in companies that have budgets to test and refine the process, as there is no “One Size Fits All”. It will likely take working with a Gamification consultant, to help you identify metrics that are trackable and important to your business. I think one of the things that seems gimmicky at first glance, but can have a huge impact on the “Life of an Individual”, will be ‘Badges’. Say you work for Ford, and they track the amount of sales you made in ‘X’ amount of time, and award you a badge for “1000 Sales Completed”. You are able to show this badge to future employees, or even with the current employer, to prove that you are worth your weight in gold. I see it as a way to validate hard work and effort. I know there are jobs that I worked hard at and accomplished many things, but shortly after, it is forgotten and sometimes hard to prove. This can be a system that allows an individual to track their achievements whether it is related to sales, education, community service, or interaction with websites that are relevant to your own goals.[/quote]
Hopefully you readers leave this article understanding Gamification a little better, I know I did. Aaron saw us off, and wrapped up the interview with one more note.
[quote]Due to people hearing “Game” in the term Gamification, it has added confusion, and at times allows people to belittle a concept that is founded in human psychology. Once anyone takes the time to truly see how it can affect their process, they will understand the benefits that Gamification can provide.[/quote]
At first glance, I also used to think that Gamification was more of a gimmick. Now I see it as a technique that inspires users to engage and involve themselves in the use of whatever Gamified content they’re using. And if used correctly, will improve the users’ progression leading to them achieving great things.
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