Motivation: The Gamification Endgame
Gamification engages people at an emotional level, which is far more powerful than typical transactional engagement strategies.
Intrinsic rewards can sustain engagement, whereas extrinsic rewards have a less durable impact and may even serve to discourage players.
People are motivated by maintaining a sense of autonomy, progressing toward mastery, and engaging with a purpose larger than themselves.
Player-centric design starts with an understanding of the players’ goals and ambitions and strives for an experience that engages players at an emotional level to help them achieve a goal that is meaningful to them.
Gamification breaks larger goals into smaller practical challenges, encouraging players as they progress through levels, and engages them emotionally to achieve their very best.
If the player’s goals are aligned with the organization’s goals, then the organizational goals will be realized as a consequence of the player achieving her goals.
Give Meaning to Players
Loyalty, rewards, and incentive programs function as a payback for players who complete certain actions prescribed by the sponsor organization. The sponsor organization bears the costs of the program and of the rewards to players.
Games have no purpose other than entertaining the players. When a game is successful, players pay for the cost of the game plus the profit to the provider.
Gamification is about motivating players to achieve goals that are shared by the provider and the player. Normally, the provider pays for the solution and the players participate for free.
What’s new about gamification is that it uses a digital model to extend engagement and motivation beyond face-to-face interactions, breaking the barriers of scale, time, distance, connectedness, and cost.
Disintermediation, social networking, and crowdsourcing are adjacent trends that enable gamification.
Gamification serves three primary purposes: changing behaviors, developing skills, and driving innovation for three target audiences: customers, employees, and communities of interest.
Changing Behavior One Step at a Time
Customer-focused gamification solutions are far more than loyalty programs on steroids. Gamification can be used to add value to the product offering, change customer interaction models, and enable customer-support networks. Building gamification into customer touch points requires different thinking about what the customer values.
Employee-focused applications are the fastest-growing area for gamification solutions and the opportunity is vast, from changing corporate culture, to directing employees to successful process execution, to implementing transformation programs. Employee-focused gamified solutions are changing the engagement model and value exchange between employer and employee.
Gamification is particularly well suited to engaging communities of interest in changing behaviors. As we already know, the sweet spot for gamification is where there is overlap between player and organizational goals, and communities of interest exist because of shared goals.
Gamification can play an important role in implementing change by defining a clear transformation path with simple steps and encouragement along the way. Gamification uses goal setting, triggers, and baby steps to help people change behaviors. Players can find kindred spirits and enlist the support of friends with social sharing. Gamification helps people repeat behaviors until they become habits, keep the process fresh, and develop change over time.
Using Gamification to Develop Skills
Gamification motivates people during the long process of learning and extends the classroom to provide learning opportunities to geographically dispersed students of varying abilities.
Gamified solutions break the learning process into small steps, so that every step stretches the player’s abilities, but it is still within his reach.
Learning is best done in a collaborative environment, and most gamified learning solutions encourage learners to develop a network of peers or enlist a tutor to engage and enhance the learning process.
earning is a progressive activity, with skills and knowledge built upon previously learned material. Gamified solutions must leave no gaps in learning that will hinder students in approaching subsequent material.
Gamified solutions can implement either conceptual or experiential learning approaches, or a combination of both.
Badges and other rewards have a special meaning in developing skills because they represent microcredentials that can be used to certify skills attainment.
Using Gamification to Drive Innovation
Gamified innovation solutions tend to be competition based. These differ from behavior change and skills development solutions, which lean to being more collaborative.
Gamification can provide the structure to engage, motivate, and focus the innovation activities of the crowd and leaves players free to innovate within that space.
Sometimes people need to overcome the mind-set that participation in innovation is not part of their job. Management must provide strong support to encourage people to participate.
In most gamified innovation solutions, idea submission is rewarded with a large share of points, shares, influence, or whatever rewards element is in use.
The power of the crowd really starts to show in idea selection. In this phase, ideas are evaluated and voted on by community members to ensure that the best ideas bubble to the top.
The community is critical in developing ideas to the point where they can be launched as projects. Community members can help fill the skills gaps of the originator of the idea and collaboratively develop the most valuable ideas.
Community members must have confidence that their ideas are seriously considered and that at least some of the “winning” ideas will more forward to become implemented projects.
Managing for Success
If you are attempting to initiate a gamification project, you may need to dispel some common myths and sell the concept of gamification before management will even consider investing in it.
Collect case studies of successes in other organizations to convince management that those successes can be replicated in your company.
A gamification project is unlike most other IT projects, and it requires many different skills to be successful.
Because gamification projects tend to be smaller than other change projects in an organization, sometimes they are not taken seriously and suffer from “hobby project” status.
Assess which approach your organization will use to develop a gamification solution: custom development, purpose-built solutions, or generalized gamification platforms.
The greatest risk in gamification is poorly designed solutions, and the largest barrier to success is the lack of gamification design skills within organizations.
Don’t expect that “if you build it, they will come.” Plan to invest time and money to market the gamified solution through the launch to develop a critical mass of players.
Benefits realization starts at the beginning of the project and must be tracked, harvested, and communicated.
Watch out for unanticipated benefits and record those as well.
Capture lessons learned to build the organizational memory.