Where Gamification Can Take You and How to Avoid the Dangers on the Way


One of the ma­jor mis­con­cep­tions sur­round­ing gam­i­fi­ca­tion is that it is sim­ply turn­ing real-world tasks into friv­o­lous ac­tiv­i­ties. Gamification is the proof that a sys­tem or process can be fun or com­pet­i­tive with­out com­pro­mis­ing on ben­e­fit or clar­ity of the task. Another com­mon mis­con­cep­tion is that gam­i­fi­ca­tion is only aimed at gamers. It is in fact aimed at every­one as it re­lates to aware­ness lev­els and ed­u­ca­tion. Regular users can en­gage with gam­i­fied tasks and busi­ness processes with­out hav­ing any gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The aim is not to make a game or ma­nip­u­late the users; ul­ti­mately it is to in­crease in­ter­ac­tion and en­gage­ment with the au­di­ence or users. Over time or­gan­i­sa­tions will need to evolve the ap­pli­ca­tion in or­der to main­tain en­gage­ment lev­els. Users will even­tu­ally run out of tasks or chal­lenges to com­plete and once this hap­pens en­gage­ment lev­els will drop dra­mat­i­cally for those users. A way to min­imise this risk is to use the data that is con­tin­u­ously gath­ered by or­gan­i­sa­tions which can, in turn, be used to adapt gam­i­fied processes as needed. One way to com­bat this prob­lem is to have fre­quently added con­tent.

Even if con­tent is added fre­quently the de­sign is im­por­tant at every stage of the gam­i­fi­ca­tion process. Motivators are very im­por­tant when de­sign­ing the way in which to gam­ify a process. An ex­trin­sic mo­ti­va­tor, when turned into a scarce com­mod­ity in a gam­i­fied process through com­pe­ti­tion, ac­tu­ally turns play­ers into ri­vals. This re­sults in col­lab­o­ra­tion be­ing de­stroyed and it di­min­ishes the in­trin­sic in­ter­est. Extrinsic re­wards are not long term so­lu­tions, as they re­sult in the com­ple­tion of tasks for the sole pur­pose of get­ting a re­ward rather than hav­ing in­trin­sic mo­ti­va­tion. This type of sit­u­a­tion re­sults in an un­sus­tain­able means for mo­ti­va­tion to com­plete the task if or when there is no re­ward.

However, a key point to take away is that gam­i­fi­ca­tion is not a sub­sti­tute for good man­age­ment. When gam­i­fi­ca­tion is in­tro­duced there are dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with it be­com­ing a stop­gap mea­sure for poor man­age­ment in­stead of an ac­cel­er­a­tor for the busi­ness. When there is a clearly ar­tic­u­lated prob­lem, gam­i­fi­ca­tion can ad­dress that and be­come a con­trib­u­tor to core processes and strate­gies. Gamification sup­ple­ments ex­ist­ing busi­ness processes, it does not re­place them.

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David Burkett

Growth en­thu­si­ast and res­i­dent pom

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