There’s a lot of buzz around gamification right now and it’s only going to get worse. As one of the propagators of it, I can guarantee it. But put away the buzzwords and badges and there are some very sound reasons as to why gamification matters top your business.
At the core of gamification are games and the mechanics that make games so engaging. So before we can fully define what gamification is and why it’s important, let’s look at what a game is.
In Jane McGonnical’s book, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World she classifies a game as as having four components.
- Goals: The goals need to be specific to the outcome of the game. The goal focuses the players and orients their behavior and provides them with a sense of purpose. (And I mean real epic goals like change the World, not just make bigger quarterly profits.)
- Rules: The rules place limitations on the players and these limitations push the players to come up with increasingly creative ways of reaching the goal. (With rules that include don’t deceive or withhold vital information from customers.)
- Feedback: Good feedback systems should provide real time feedback to the players so they always know where they are in achieving the goal. (Not meaningless annual reviews which don’t really tell you anything.)
- Voluntary Participation: This sounds a little silly or obvious but I think it’s especially important as businesses think about using gamification. It’s not a game if thew participants don’t choose to play. (And just showing up to work and putting in your time doesn’t count as playing the game.)
So let me ask you this:
- Would your business do better if everyone at your company knew what the goal was and all agreed on the same goal?
- If everyone had a clear understanding of the rules and what kind of activities were within and which were outside the rules?
- Would you be able to do your job better if at any point you could look at near real time feedback that told you what contribution you were making towards reaching the goal?
- And finally how much better would your company run if everyone at the company agreed to the goal and the rules and was there because they really cared about the goal not just because they were looking to collect a paycheck?
If you break it down like this, it’s hard to argue with using gamification in your business.
This is really just smart business and I know some of you will argue that you don’t need points and badges to do this and you don’t. But it is really, *really* hard to get organizations to agree on goals and rules and metrics, let alone act on them. Gamification provides further tools, like game mechanics, to engage your employees and customers as well as frameworks and technology to do things like deliver appropriate, real time feedback.
So feel free to hate on the buzzwords and the hype but don’t dismiss gamification.