As a kid I was a big game player. I especially enjoyed games like Monopoly and Clue. Back then I loved playing these games for the sheer enjoyment. I did not realize then that these games were providing me not just with enjoyment but also a training of sorts. From cognitive thinking to deductive reasoning and so on, these games — completely unbeknownst to me at the time, helped teach me to use these skills for use later in life.
Now I did not go on to become the next Columbo but I do use these skills today and have done so my entire career.
Gamification is in many ways the next step in the evolution as it is the application of basic game theory and mechanics in contexts outside of games. The approach is finding increasing acceptance as a method of problem solving, and is currently being used in a variety of applications to improve user engagement and other important data gathering metrics. It attempts to encourage and harness the natural desire people have to compete, achieve, and win, through providing them structured rewards that are both tangible and status-based in nature in return for participating in the system.
An increasing number of businesses are discovering that gamification principles can be applied to help solve their marketing problems as well, with over 70% of the Forbes Global 200 saying they planned to use gamification for marketing purposes by the end of 2014 in a survey performed by Gartner, Inc. If you have noted the recent upswing of loyalty programs involving special achievement badges, progress towards different levels, or even virtual currencies of some type, you have witnessed gamification principles in action.
Here are just a few examples of specific marketing problems these theories are currently being used to address:
- Getting people engaged – One of the most common problems in the business world is getting people engaged with a product or service in the first place. Mounting evidence suggests that games are one of the most engaging mediums possible; so much so that doctors are beginning to employ them as a form of pain relief for victims of severe burns and other extreme trauma, as reported by Science Daily. People are quite literally so engaged by gaming content that they are able to enjoy a measure of pain relief.
- Keep them coming back – Games are also good at getting people to come back and patronize an establishment the important second or third time. They enjoy the hook, and are seeking to confirm and repeat their experience. ”That’s part of the lure of many of the greatest old school arcade games,” explains Brandon Perton, Owner of The Old School Game Vault, an online vintage game store. “They always left you wanting to play just one more time, wanting to come back. And of course, you could – as long as you had the requisite quarter, of course.”
- Make them feel involved – There is a difference between a repeat customer and a regular, and gamification tactics can help companies to create that bridge for their customers. According to the CEO of tech support company iTOK, “If you design an engaging enough reward and achievement system, customers will naturally engage in the behavior you encourage, thereby decreasing the need for extra tech support in many cases.”
- Change the average into the exciting – Finally, employing game strategy can help change the average into the exciting. Research shows that gamification can even be employed in order to help ensure completion of market surveys, encourage desirable website behavior, and perform other tasks which are traditionally boring and/or difficult to get customers to engage in.
Why Gamifiication Is Growing In Popularity?
“A lot can be explained by simple demographics,” writes Simon. “A generation of Millennials are now in the workforce, and this is a generation who grew up playing interactive games.”
He also references the fact that according to Nielsen “68% of Millennials own a game console, 76% own smartphones and 73% own a laptop, so it’s a generation comfortable with games, interactivity and technology. ”
So are gamification tactics the next big thing in marketing?
Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain; when brands such as McDonalds, Toyota, Nike, Volkswagen, Coca-Cola, Heineken and Mini all are developing tactics based on these principles, it’s situation that is at the very least worth paying attention to.
Sources: Technorati, Google Images
Steve Olenski Contributor