Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gamification Examination: The Week in Gamification, October 21-25, 2013

What the heck do I know?

Feel free to look me up here.

Two years ago I was introduced to the world of "gamification," which is using game mechanics to encourage user behavior. This is not a new technique (think Airline Miles), but with the infusion of Big Data into the picture, the ability to track and modify user experiences on a millisecond by millisecond basis became possible. 

With the experience I have had in making video games that must react to users' every whim and desire, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get into this new "field."

There are many ways to slice this onion, but one of the best ways to say it is that users that are experiencing gamified systems are more engaged and interested in what they are doing. In my opinion, it's because the people that are doing the gamification are being FORCED to listen to their users. Just like a good video game. 

But gamification is NOT a video game. As these blogs go forward, you'll see what I'm talking about. 

Let's discuss the highlights in this week's Gamification Examination!

Disclaimer: there are a lot of opinions thrown around in here. Consider yourself warned as well as invited to participate in a discussion through the comments below. 

Why gamification is the future of social TV

This article describes how the players in online / social TV and video delivery are finding ways to entice users to share content as well as become more deeply involved with it through contests, surveys, and additional material on the content creators' websites. It's as if they were using the content as a trap for their users! But if you think about it, don't you want your users more ENGAGED with your products and content? What are YOU doing to encourage deeper involvement with your product? Maybe you're an employer that wants to gamify your employees... what ways can you provide to get your employees more excited about your company and its products or services?  

Remember what we said about Big Data above? Well, it's really here to stay and the NSA isn't the only one with access to it. If you're using the internet on anyone's site... they know what you're doing and what you're clicking on. Get used to it. 

Oh yeah, I'm going to write about that article. On second thought... I won't. Because it's a paid Press Release that requires you to login to their system and then download the real information. 

Based upon my experience and what I've read lately, they won't be replaced, but they will have a tougher time. If gamification is implemented correctly in organizations, some studies show that turnover is reduced up to 37%. That makes it a little harder to dig someone out of a job. 

Get the Technology Outlook for STEM+ Education 2013-2018

Now this is something you can download and read. Here's my summary: It turns out that kids like games. No, they really like games. And they are highly motivated when someone makes their educational material into a game. Shocking, right? Well, it's backed up with a bunch of data now, so pay attention. 

The next round of employees are going to be bored out of their minds in your organization if you cannot figure out how to motivate them. Here are the keys to the kingdom: Big DataGamification, and Immersive Learning Environments. You're welcome. 

Here's the index to the PDF, in case you want to dig deeper. 

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less 

  • Learning Analytics 
  • Mobile Learning 
  • Online Learning 
  • Virtual and Remote Laboratories 

 Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years 
  • 3D Printing 
  • Games and Gamification 
  • Immersive Learning Environments 
  • Wearable Technology 
 Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years 
  • Flexible Displays 
  • The Internet of Things 
  • Machine Learning 
  • Virtual Assistants 

Why you were not wasting your time playing video games - an introduction to gamification

This article is all about the basics of gamification as well as a couple of good examples of its use. Again, it all boils back down to game mechanics, motivating and engaging users, and additional depth of content and experience. 

They warn about the risks of gamification to be mentioned later, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that their comments about it being bad or poorly accepted are going to prove to be either a poor implementation that doesn't resonate with users or, worse, a fire and forget strategy that was a failure before it started. If you are going to use gamification, you MUST fully commit to its needs. And those needs are based in what online video games have been doing for over twenty years: new content and user directed feedback. In other words, if you're not committed to adding new content and listening to your users, you have already failed. See #6 on my blog post: 6 Things to Consider Before you Implement a Gamification Strategy. You have to be committed. 

This is a pretty good blog! While it only lightly touches on gamification, it does put it in perspective of how it fits within the "gaming" or "toy" realm. It has links to other blogs with much more deep material that you can dive into as you wish. 

His take on intrinsic / extrinsic motivation is a little different than mine, but that's okay. While he defines extrinsic as "points, badges, etc." I see those as ways to visualize intrinsic motivation. My definition of extrinsic is "something you can hold or experience," like a prize or a lunch with the CEO. Maybe I'm way wrong, but the point of intrinsic-ness is that it is inherently personal and there's no way to know what someone's intrinsic motivators are. If nothing taught me that any other way, video games have shown me the light. 

I constantly play games with people that have decided on their own "win" conditions. These are rules that they make up with the tools they have and may have nothing to do with the original game experience. It's like playing pool with someone and they decide that you have to shoot with the wrong hand and bank the cue ball off one rail before hitting the object ball. Using "badges," you can actually reward people for doing things like that, and you'll allow those players to show off the fact that they were able to play in that manner. I think that's rewarding because you were able to take that motivation and reward it. And you can only do that if you have built a gamification system that allowed for that flexibility AND you listened to your users to find out that they wanted to experience your system that way. 

What if your employees decided that the best salesman was the one that could close three sales between 4:45pm and closing time, 5pm AND those customers gave them 5 star ratings on their customer review system? What if they wanted to get a lunch with the CEO for getting to work on time every day for a month? Could your system adjust for that quickly? Do you have a plan in place and a person in place that listens to these desires?

Retail bank innovation focuses on mobile, location-based services and gamification

This references a report that you have to be a member to download. I'm not going to sign up for all of these services, but if you want to give it a go, here's the link.

For all of the hype in the title, here's the one quote that mentions it: "Gamification has been used by nine percent of banks, with 45 percent aiming to gaming elements to engage customers in future." Wow. Not much to go on, but still impressive given that banks are usually not taking risks like this. So, what does that tell you? I think it says that someone has seen the writing and the ROI and wants in. It's not giving a rifle to depositors, but it's taking a risk anyway!

I'm an online customer of CHASE, and I don't feel like their system is gamified, but there are tools I can use that help me manage my money more like a game if I want to. I can set alerts and get texts for whatever I want. I like to think of them as my little helpers that are managing my money. But again, that's MY intrinsic motivation. What would happen if they actually let me choose avatars that sent me email in their "voice?" What if I got badge awards for direct deposits or putting regular deposits in my savings accounts? Heck, what if I could participate in a greater challenge like Kiva or BOINC, where my badges added up to a group goal? Austin has saved $1million dollars this year, so CHASE is donating $10,000 to [insert charity you chose to "save" toward]. My goodness, that would be a win for everyone. How much does advertisement cost? And how much would that interest gain for them? You do the math. I'll keep dreaming. 

Signing off for today (10/22/13)

That's it for now. I fully expect you to share your thoughts here. Tell me I'm off base. I'll listen and adapt. I'm not "right," because no one is on matters like these, because this is a growing field, and I don't have all the information you do. More than anything, a discussion will help us ALL learn more. 

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