This is Epic – Gamification

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Gamification is a fairly new methodology that you can directly apply to your product or service. In this post I’ll provide a solid basis to help you understand the demand for gamification and some of its components.

According to the Gamification Wiki, gamification typically involves:

-Applying game design thinking to non-game applications
-To make them more fun and engaging
-Can potentially be applied to any industry and almost anything
-The goal is to create fun and engaging experiences
-Converting users into players is the beginning of the gamification process

It’s interesting to know that:

-Over 50% of gamers are now female
-30% of the gamer population now being over 45
-There are 40 million active social gamers in the US (they play at least 1hr/week)
-And there are, unsurprisingly, over 200 million gamers on Facebook

Is ‘gamification’ as a catch phrase played out?

Yes, but that means it is going mainstream. Are your customers looking for coupons to unlock redeemable facebook credits because of a high score? If they’re not, they probably just don’t know that they want to…yet.

Before  getting into some of its intricacies, there are practical examples by BusinessWeek of how you can seamlessly increase page views and sales on your website:

-With a progress bar of your completed tasks
-A countdown to expiring offers
-Leaderboard that shows you viewed and shared the most
-Badges and trophies for reaching a certain level of achievement
-Appointments that reward users to return at a certain period of time

Now we can get into how to rationalize the consequences of using gamification on your website. Having recently attended an Enterprise Gamification Workshop taught by Mario Herger, it was amazing to hear about all of the different scales of businesses that are measuring success based on the performance of recently converted gamified units. While you can certainly apply ‘traditional’ metric values to new gamification components, there are some unique attributes that are worth mentioning.

It’s possible to measure gamification:

-In whether or not your application is a competitive or social game
-The average hours played on it
-Active or registered users
-The player base’s retention
-Frequency of engagement
-Response time

Keep in mind that, if you’re creating a gamified component it’s important to note their skill level and personal and professional role so that you can create a certain level of collaborative autonomy that promotes user into failure- and eventually, that epic win.

If you have the potential to integrate game designer Jane McGonigal’s four basic aspects of what makes a game into your website- a goal, clear rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation, you are on your way to enhanced motivational pulls like collaborative and engaging success.

The intersection of publishing, mobile and health are topping out the potential of innovation with new game-based elements.

We all know that the news industry has been going through some serious changes in the past few years, so it’s interesting to see initiatives to gamify a news experience with “rooms” and tasks by aligning that with the goals of the news organization. Gamification by gamification. Now, that is meta.

It only seems natural that publishers reign in on the attention model that dominates their business appeal. The history of success of book clubs serves as a nice base to understand how publishing has always been intertwined with being transported to another reality by connecting with the emotions of readers.

Perficient says that gamification can be used to solve real-world health problems (especially on mobile devices) that involve a routine and helps patients overcome any obstacles that might deter them from being victorious.

Education aside, advances in mobile health care applications that use gamification to help people live a better life has to be the most exciting aspect of gamified innovations. Consider Jawbone’s UP, a wristband that integrates the sedentary and fast-moving lifestyles; this is really just the beginning of how the real world and gamified health mobile are becoming intermeshed.

2011 seemed to be the year of gamification. Areas like mobile, health and publishing all became outlets that saw major innovation taking place because of a harmonization of the rules of gamifying an online business.

So this means we should all drop our schedules and start to play? Nope. There is still a rather large gap with the people that gamify and the real world application knowledgeable crowd. Shakespeare also said: “If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work.” While this is important to keep in mind,  games are entrenched within societal norms and the results when combined with the efforts of  interdisciplinary designers to achieve a common goal are encouraging.

There’s no telling that whether or not people can agree on its definition or effectiveness, gamification will be a part of the online business mechanics. Gartner released that come 2015, 50 % of “innovative” companies will use gamification to foster innovation.

History shows us that gamification has always been a part of marketing, it’s only now that there is a term that people can relate to their online business. First came loyalty programs, then status-based opportunities, and now we are approaching a gamified loyalty paradigm.

And what we’re learning about gamification is that its gains in effectiveness lean much more towards taking a behavioral psychological approach, opposed to focusing strictly on technology- a notion that any marketer can get behind.

If we are living in an attention based economy, what better way to package the user’s experience then with something that rewards them for their time? There are limits to play and we are still in the beginning of understanding where the sweet spot is for engaging players and converting them back into paying customers.

When will there be a ‘a ha!’ moment for new gamers, game designers, and online business, where they have finally figured out what people are willing to participate in on the web, and what elements should be reserved for consoles and computer gaming platforms? This I think is going to be an interesting race that is going to be molded by the competative edge that makes internet business such an exciting space.

Patrick Salyer, CEO of gamification platform Gigya, thinks there are two main predictors of gaming to success:

“One is making sure that all gamified elements are inherently social, that is, don’t restrict engagement to the internal site community. Award points for activities that reach users’ social [networks] to bring in referral traffic.”

What do you think? How do you use gamification in your website?

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