I’ve recently started taking a class on gamification from the University of Pennsylvania through Coursera.org. Until now I really haven’t learned anything new, but then again… Everything seems much more clear now. I’ve taking a lot of NLP/coaching classes, management, economics and I’ve been working with loyalty programs over the last 1,5 years or so. Gamification takes all of these elements and puts them into meaningful boxes and kind of explains you how to use them and why you should do so!
Gamification that engaged me!
I quite fast realized that there’s many ways to do gamification and it isn’t a one size fits all. Take the Nike+ for instance. I would say that’s pretty much for beginners to intermediat runners, but it never got me to use it, and I actually bought everything needed for it. I also have a frequent flyers card for SAS – Scandinavian Airlines – but the only time I register my flights is when it’s done for me, and the same goes for all my retail memberships!
All these are of course gamifications in a more classic way. Like you buy something and you get points for it. Nike+ did some amazing stuff with their service, but I prefer just to run and take it easy without someone shouting in my ear!
Something that actually worked for me for a while was Foursquare. I hunted those points wanting to be the best (with an altime high of 482 points) and got those badges I wanted, but it was the badges and points I hunted and the purpose of Foursquare kind of faded and today I’m almost not using it at all!? The problem with Fourquare for me is that the social part – which they are trying to solve – isn’t really working. I check-in, write a small comment and/or take a picture while doing so and others can comment on it as well. The problem for me is – what’s the point? I know I’m a bit more social than average, with a Klout score of 60, but I already have Facebook and Twitter to be social on!? Facebook is for friends and Twitter is for news and a bit more serious tweets. When I used Foursquare the most it was with a friend of mine and we competed against eachother. That was the game part. The goal was points and badges and nothing else. When he didn’t really check-in anymore neither did I.
So Foursquare actually had a good gamification, but there wasn’t any real life purpose, I didn’t feel any progress (always status quo) and I quickly lost interest!
What would work for me?
I’ve been thinking a lot on the professors words and the things I’ve learned while being employeed at my current work! I would say that making progression is important so I don’t feel stuck in the middle and nothings happening. That’s eventually what made me drop out on video games! Then it has to make sense. I have to feel that whatever I’m doing makes sense for me and not just in the virtual world. I really don’t have any time for that. I don’t mind the virtual world (or in other words internet based technology/services) supporting me, but there has to be a bigger goal out there. When I ran a lot I did it for charity, like water in Africa, Diabetis, etc., and I felt good about “paying” for running. So that’s an example where I’m paying someone to participate and not the other way around (e.g. giving prizes or similar). And the most important thing is to compete against someone and I have to occationally win, and more frequent that I lose… I have to like always want to be the best and actually get those small pointless victories. If you look at people who really love what they are doing, the are really focused and into what they are doing; endorphins are pumping through their vains!
That is the kind of user experience I want. Or simply I want to be amazed, and of course I want everything what gamification typically has with the PBL!
Great! So where do we start?
Well start by finding out what is it you want people to do (besides spend money)? How can you turn that into a game where people freely would participate and have fun while they are doing it?
Remember how people will behave on different scenarioes. People can behave the opposite way in what you thought they would and how do you handle that? It’s like the economy. It’s been slowing down now for quite some time now, and what people do is that they spend less money because they feel that the future isn’t surtain. That’s actually the worst thing you could do and what happens it that the economy slows even further down and even more people lose their jobs because no ones buying what they are selling. So always think of how people actually would react; think about how you seriously would react!
So if I should be a bit more of a business man on this approach I would do a top down on the business idea on gamification, and then I would do a bottom up on the gamified business idea, and hopefully you have a match. It’s very important that the gamified business idea is the idea and not the business approach. If it isn’t, it will seem half hearted and will probably have a lot of lose ends!