I Am a Gamer
Not so much a first-person shooter or spell casting, type of gamer but more of the Poké Ball throwing type of gamer. And actually, if I pause Pokémon GO and ponder… gamification has made its way into just about every level of my life!
Let me explain:
- Each morning I buy my Starbucks coffee on an app that rewards my loyalty with digital stars. On top of that my coffee app is linked to a credit card which is garnering me frequent flyer miles. Win/Win!
- Throughout the day, I “like,” “heart” and “swipe right” on people and ideas that appeal to me.
- I hustle to out step my friends and close “activity rings” on my Apple Watch.
- After I log my food into a popular gamified nutrition app, lunchtime is spent learning Spanish on an app that rewards me with access to the next bite-sized lesson on the correct Spanish for food, family and animals. Comida, familia y animales.
The lines between my reality and Tron are getting a bit blurry.
Gamification: A Practice Ahead of Its Name
The business world adopted gamification long before the word had been coined. Game play has been present in marketing and sales for years. I recall childhood shopping trips with my grandmother to the local A&P. At the cash register, clattering stamp machines spat out S&H Green Stamps which she would collect into special booklets and then redeem for prizes.
A few years later I fell for McDonald’s very popular spin on the Monopoly game which launched sometime in the 1980’s and has been often repeated.
In their book Changing the Game, David Edery and Ethan Mollick observe, “Companies of all shapes and sizes have begun to use games to revolutionize the way they interact with customers and employees, becoming more competitive and more profitable as a result.”
Now, even training and learning have rolled the proverbial dice. Immersive digital games have been developed by fast food chains to teach skills like, order fulfillment with employees trying to beat the clock while they build digital burgers to order.
So, does it work? Great question!
Let’s look at 2 primary goals of gamification. Gamification is often used to drive engagement and/or affect a behavior.
We’ll just take those two and use me as the anecdotal “test case.”
As I sheepishly mentioned earlier, gamification has affected my approach to how I engage in my social life. Its application within loyalty programs has influenced my spending habits. Gamification has challenged my eating habits, but it has improved my exercise habits. And, gamification has encouraged my learning habits. Sí, hablo español.
I’m Exhibit A. I am both highly engaged in and I am altering my behavior as a response to these “games.”
Gamification for Good
Additionally, marquee brands are continuing to gamify their way to customer engagement, profits and even altruism.
As a part of the launch of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort, the entertainment giant teamed with its philanthropic arm to produce the interactive game, Connect to Protect. Through a custom app, visitors to fictional Pandora, can participate in conversations on conservation with one of Pandora’s “research scientists.” Guest participation unlocks $5-10 contributions from the Disney Wildlife Fund which the guest can then designate towards protection and/or restoration of habitats important to one of 10 threatened categories of animals: apes, elephants, butterflies, coral reefs, cranes, monkeys, rhinos, sea turtles, sharks & rays, and tigers. The game drives altruism on both a financial/charitable level and by driving environmental consciousness.
Less immersive game elements or “game mechanics” like points, badges, certificates and leaderboards have now integrated their way into learning management platforms like, Meridian Global LMS. These gamification features provide organizations a more economical method to effectively tap into the power of gamification than say, the financial requirement that fully immersive, complex digital games do.
Making Sure Yours Is Not a Game of Chance
Rock Paper Scissors is a great game for deciding where to go for lunch but it’s not the best way to approach game design inside your LMS. Here are 6 steps for success to consider when incorporating gamification within the context of a learning management system:
6 Steps to Winning Gamification
- Define Your Objective: Gamification works best when designed to support a defined learning objective. Having that objective support a stated business goal is even better. Be careful not to fall into gamification for gamification’s sake.
- Identify Learning Activities: Select the courses that help learners master the skills they need to reach that well-defined objective/business goal.
- Incorporate Culture: To get employee buy in or participation, tap into your tribe. Gamification that references a culture that employees are already familiar and aligned with will resonate more deeply with your employees.
- K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple): Incorporate common game elements. Develop “rules of play” that are easy to understand. Scoring can be based on points, milestones or a combination of both. “By 21 years of age, many males will have spent over 10,000 hours immersed in online gaming.” McGonigal, Reality is Broken. People understand leaderboards, points, levels and badges. We have been conditioned from childhood to instinctively respond to challenges and rewards they promise. A simple straightforward game makes adoption easier for the player and makes game management a breeze for the administrator.
- Time Limited: Set a start and end date for the game. Just like those 50% off specials with an expiration date… we hate to miss out.
- Reward: Game play can be positively motivated both intrinsically and extrinsically. Intrinsically, I am motivated because I am bettering myself. Extrinsically, I am motivated and there is nothing quite as exciting as playing for points, certificates or that grand prize! Psychological, digital or physical, we enjoy the feeling when we gain something. Make a case for intrinsic rewards for playing but don’t forget to pick up that grand prize!
Now for YOUR grand prize…
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 Gamification https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification
 ‘Connect to Protect’ Introduces a New Interactive Way to Protect Animals on Earth and Explore Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2017/05/connect-to-protect-introduces-a-new-interactive-way-to-protect-animals-on-earth-and-explore-pandora-the-world-of-avatar-at-disneys-animal-kingdom/