Gamification is everywhere, triggering us to continually engage; in fact the IEEE predicts that 85% of our lives will have an integrated concept of gaming in the next five years.
If by now, you’re wondering what gamification means exactly – I’m afraid you’ll need to go back to Level 1 to find out.
Why Does Gamification Engage us so Effectively?
In order to understand why gamification keeps us addicted, we need to first framework human motivation in order to conceptualise our core drivers.
According to McClelland’s Motivation Theory, which builds upon Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Human motivation may be categorised broadly into 3 key areas:
The need to set and accomplish challenging tasks and to receive feedback on progress and achievements.
The ontological propensity to belong to a group or community – to collaborate, contribute and compete.
The need for status and recognition, for instance; levels, membership brackets, badges, certification and, medals; also the need to share information to others.
The multiple elements of gamification stem from these three core human drivers. Gamification is essentially, design that places emphasis upon human motivation, it engages us because applications become ‘human-focused’ as opposed to ‘function-focused’. It taps into our motivation for mastery, our desire to be connected to something broader than ourselves, to psychologically ‘extend’ our reach.
Gamification is Becoming Integrated into all Aspects of Society
The longevity of gamification depends upon a successful shift observed from novelty applications, towards truly meaningful assimilation into real-life initiatives. Here are three industries that have started to adopt elements of gamification.
This space lends itself particularly well to gamification for two key reasons.
As children, ‘play’ is an integral component in achieving effective learning and development, therefore gamification can help to extend this accelerated learning phase. Secondly students comprise the millennial and iGeneration; they are accustomed to, and expect digitally provided e-learning that is high-tech and high-touch.
E-learning is the fastest growing market in the education industry at over 100 billion dollars and it has been reported that 89% of students feel they would be more engaged in an e-learning platform if it had a point system, whilst 80% of learners agreed that they would be more productive if their institution was more game-like.
Results reported from assimilating gamification elements include higher grades, and decreases in students failing to complete courses and programs.
Most significantly it seems that gamification may not only trigger enhanced engagement but may help to close the ‘skills gap’ witnessed by graduate employers. It was recently reported that a staggering 45 million job openings in the US alone cannot be filled due to a disconnect between desired skills and the applicants’ résumé upon exiting education.
Gamification is allowing students to gain vocational skills in a simulating, gaming environment in order to ascertain know-how that employers desire. Examples include:
- Wall Street Survivor: a gamification platform that teaches students the basics of the stock market and portfolio investment through competitive game play.
- Ribbon Hero: a socially integrated add-in that teaches users to become more competent in the Microsoft Office suite through game-play challenges.
- The World Peace Game: allows students to participate in a political simulation that encourages them to view the world in terms of social, economic, and philosophical issues by introducing competitive teamwork challenges. One of the most pertinent objectives of the game is to gain an understanding of the critical impact of information and how it is used.
Key Motivational Driver: Power
Global environmental issues are something that unite us all – climate change, extinction, pollution – they’re all very real problems – in fact pollution is one of the biggest global killers. So why do most of us not feel connected to these issues?
According to recent studies, a term coined ‘technological utopianism’ may help to explain why many of us are not engaged to change or feel accountable for our environmental impact.
Technological utopianism assumes that with knowledge comes behavioural change. In a world with ever-increasing data proliferation and the ubiquity of social networking fostering information provision and sharing – we are overloaded with information regarding global issues without a significant upswing in behaviour. There is a missing element present in this equation that would enable users to make sense of the information, allowing them to cultivate meaning from engaging.
With purely information provision, we are in danger of becoming ‘slacktivists’. We are currently able to ‘engage’ with environmental issues at the most minimal level in order to satisfy our core motivational drivers for affiliation and power. Via social media – simply sharing or liking a post, article or video regarding an environmental issue allows us to affiliate with and gain recognition, but does not allow us to achieve measurable real-world progress.
In order to counteract slacktivism, gamification must enable users to engage with an issue in such a way that allows them to activate their motivational driver to achieve, which in turn will allow them to socially share their progress and thus satisfy the need for affiliation and power through true activism. To illustrate this construct, here are a few examples of ‘eco-gamification’.
- TheFunTheory: A Volkswagen initiative that strives to change human behaviour by making activities fun. Implementations include the Speed Camera Lottery whereby all drivers regardless of speed are captured as they drive past the speed camera. Those that exceed the limit are fined and those that abide by the speed law are entered into a lottery to win money earned from the fines. A simple concept, which reduced average speed by 22% when installed in Sweden. Drivers are incentivised to do something they already should because their motivational drivers are triggered.
- ‘The Prius Effect’: A term coined to describe the noted change in driver behaviour due to the multi-information display showing real-time metrics on elements, such as petrol consumption, eco-saving, and energy usage. Results include slow acceleration, coasting, braking lightly and judicious use of heating and air conditioning. This phenomenon has been coined, ‘conspicuous conservation’ whereby individuals seek status through displays of austerity amid growing concern about environmental protection. This type of gamification satisfies achievement, affiliation and power drivers, as the feedback from the display “becomes something like your total score in a video game. You’re always trying to beat your previous high score”
- RecycleBank: A scheme that gives members points for ‘going green’. Members earn for tasks such as buying environmentally friendly products, walking to work, using less water or recycling – they can even stack up points for taking online ecology quizzes and for sharing tips on their social channels. Not only does this satisfy all three core drivers, but the points translate into discounts and deals for local and national restaurants and retail.
Gamification can allow users to ‘play for purpose’ and can correct our engagement with environmental causes across social media by allowing us to achieve directly from a cause.
Key Motivational Driver: Affiliation
There are multiple stakeholders in this vertical that can benefit from gamification elements – both staff and patients.
According to IEEE member, Elena Bertozzi, “Right now, it is easier to demonstrate efficacy and monetise gaming in healthcare than in some other areas, which is helping it advance at a rapid rate”
Video games are used currently in healthcare to teach basic medical procedures and it has been reported that as wearable and 3D surface technology improves, they can be used to practice complicated surgeries and medical methods.
Aside from use in hospitals and by doctors, games are being used to teach basic modern medicine in countries where proper care is harder to access. Games that show the importance of flu vaccines and other medicines are already helping reduce the spread of infections globally.
According to Bertozzi, “Doctors are using games to train, as well as in patient care. Current games in medicine encourage pro-social behaviors with patients in recovery from some types of surgeries and/or injuries. With new technology, we will find even more ways to integrate games to promote healthy behavior and heal people mentally and physically.”
In a previous post, I explored the ‘connected hospital’, whereby patients are empowered through technology to engage. The instantaneous flow of data made possible over Wi-Fi devices allows patients to benchmark themselves and receive feedback.
- Ayogo: mHealth social games that engage, educate and motivate patients with chronic conditions to achieve long-term behavioural change.
- EveryMove: This application rewards users for staying active. Users track progress and benchmark themselves, working towards rewards offered by brands, employers, and health plans.
- FitBit: as featured in Level 1, utilises the addictive elements of ‘co-opertition’ as users participate for a common purpose, motivated by competing against one another.
Key Motivational Driver: Achievement
Gamification Starts Where the Wires end
Gamification brings a neural layer to the sea of technology and big data we have come to see proliferate over the past few years. This human-focused design remembers that people in a system need to be motivated intrinsically and extrinsically in order to engage.
In order for gamification to truly take effect, there has to be a narrative – simply adding a point system and badges to an application will not necessarily foster continual engagement. Gamification gives meaning to data and provides a conduit for users to navigate themselves through it. The longevity of different narratives will vary, however if a user exists out of a gamified platform, their change in behaviour, knowledge and their new propensity to advocate will likely be engrained long term.
The applications and use-cases for gamification are expanding, and the provision of mobile devices and wearable technology has reached the critical mass. However none of this may be executed effectively without a Wi-Fi infrastructure that facilitates a continuously high-quality experience.
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Want to understand how gamification may affect you in the workplace? Be sure to progress to Level 3.
This blog originally appears on xirrus.com