Gamification is a relatively new term, and it took off in the year 2010. Even though the name didn’t crop up before, there are instances which prove it was prevalent earlier as well.
The first instance of games being part and parcel of work dates back to 1978 when Richard Bartle developed MUD1.
In the year 1980, Thomas W. Malone wrote “What Makes Things Fun to Learn, A Study of Intrinsically Motivating Computer Games” which depicted the art of children learning from playing video games. We describe Charles A. Coonradt as the father of gamification.
In 1984, he published “The Game of Work: How to Enjoy Work as Much as Play” which made organizations realize the importance of becoming gamified.
In this article, we will discuss the golden rules of gamification and some useful strategies that you can implement across various genres alike. Let’s delve deeper.
Meaning of gamification
Most of us would feel monotonous if we wake up, follow the same routine, and go off to sleep day after day. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and your organization would surely don’t want you to be the Jack. Gamification is learning, coupled with fun. It helps in reducing stress and improves productivity. To know more, visit our complete guide on gamification.
Types of gamification
Gamification strategies find a place in various strata of our lives. You may find it odd when you come to realize that it has been there and you did not figure it out all this while. Here we divide it into following types –
Sales Gamification includes inculcating the habit of accepting and fulfilling challenges in your sales team. It ensures that there is always something that drives the team to achieve the targets and people in the team compete against each other to win the race. If there is no sense of competition, the sales team won’t show an urgency to reach their targets.
Mind you, we are talking about a healthy competition here, and gamified strategies do not support mindless massacre.
If you are interested to infuse your sales processes with a bit of gamification, you can read our detailed article on the subject here.
Even if traditional parenting never approved of games within the education corridor, they have been omnipresent. With more and more people realizing its benefits, the combination has picked up the pace and is growing tremendously all over the globe. Everyone has gradually started realizing that there is no better way to teach than by playing.
Click here to know the techniques used for education gamification and what makes them unique.
If you visit significant workplaces like Google and Amazon, you will find sections dedicated to gaming. Most of the new-age employers second the fact that games are an essential part of thriving work culture. They encourage the employees to learn while they play and relieve themselves. Not only they rejuvenate you, but they also teach you several valuable lessons too.
You can read about several game mechanics commonly employed by business enterprises to accentuate their growth here.
Even though you are not a toddler when you visit your new office for the first time, you are a human, and that is enough. From induction training and onboarding to teaching you soft skills and how to handle customers, gamification plays a significant role in how well you catch the concept.
We all accept that if we are fed too much knowledge at once, most of it will be lost.
To cover it, organizations have started imparting microlearning with the help of gamification.
You can read more about it here.
You have now come across several variants of gamified strategies. The last of such is the general category. These strategies work wonders irrespective of where you use them. All you have to do is mould it to suit the environment. These strategies are covered extensively below.
Golden rules of gamification
Gamification works when it is in sync with what you are trying to achieve. If your goals aren’t clear, it won’t work.
You need to figure out the right channels and the right strategies to use for it to work as you want. So we decided to list specific golden rules that are imperative to remember while you chalk down the best strategies for your organization –
1. Make your rules clear to the participants
Half-baked information causes nothing less than chaos. To make sure that your organization steer clear of any possible mishap, you must communicate the rules clearly to all the participants.
You can do so via landing page or an email containing the description of the games. The content you use to serve the particular purpose must be crisp and clear to ensure it is clearly understood.
2. Use strategic partnerships to reduce cost
Co-branding is everywhere. Why should you use it to your benefits? Because it not only saves cost but also accentuates synergy benefits for both parties. For example, Amazon co-partners with so many reputable brands to giveaway their products as part of their Quiz system. It is a win-win situation for both parties.
Example – you may go to a local cafeteria and partner with them to play a game of lucky draw where you give out your brand’s gift cards of certain denominations to multiple or a single winner.
3. Allow numerous ways to win
If there is only a unique way to win and there is only a single winner, it won’t draw a lot of attention. To ensure that you get the desired concentration, make sure that there are multiple winners of the game. You need not assign humongous gifts for all of them; there can be only one significant gift and rest its smaller companions.
4. Do not stretch just for the sake of it
The length of a game is an important aspect which defines its success. If you mess up the timing part, most participants will feel disinterested, and it won’t have the same impact. The length of the game depends on its location as well. If you are organizing it online, you can stretch it for a week, but if it is in a cafeteria, you will hardly get a day or two at your disposal.
5. Specify your own goals
Before you jump on to inculcate gamification into your organization, you must know what you want out of it. The end goal is what matters, and the games must take you there. You can try and communicate these to your team as well, which will help them take the games in the right stead. Gamification is great if you plant it properly.
Sixteen useful gamification strategies to adopt
We have completed the discussion on several aspects of gamification. It is time that we discuss some specific gamification strategies with you.
The following are sixteen such ploys you can employ –
1. Elements that drive referrals should be the main focus
You can use referral rewards to drive in more traffic or to inform more people about your existence. It can also be made available to your employees. If they bring in someone to fill the vacancy, they can get rewards on the basis of the new guy’s performance or any other basis. It will reduce your dependence on recruitment agencies as well.
2. Employees sharing valuable feedback
Feedback can help you understand employees’’ sentiments. It also helps you to understand your flaws and add in some necessary upgrades. An appropriate positive work environment is a must to achieve organizational goals and also help in improving performance. You can introduce a rewards-based feedback system where the most genuine or the most important ones get a gift.
3. Implement rewards in stages
Implementing rewards in stages is the latest trend, and most organizations are trying to reap the rewards from it. For example, you can introduce a task-based system where you get rewards for logging in daily. The rewards keep on increasing as the period progresses. If you look around, it is easy to find multiple apps following the pattern.
4. Adoption of new strategies and concepts
Most people opt out of old and stale games. If you want to engage users on a continuous basis, you must deploy new strategies and concepts. It can be in the line of the existing methodologies or a completely new idea. The period for which you want to implement it can be short term or long term depending on its feasibility.
5. Make it look easy to start but difficult to finish
An aspect of the game which no one talks about but silently implements is to make it look easy at the onset. Once you have the attention, ensure that the users have to toil harder to win. It will not only reduce the number of winners, it will also make it more interesting.
6. Rewards based on specific audience niche
Your games must depend on the audience you are catering to and so should be the rewards. If you are catering to the youth and planning to giveaway t-shirts, the colour palette must be vibrant. On the other hand, if it is for the older generation, it has to be toned down to a mellower one.
7. Add value to the overall experience
If you are engaging your employees in to a certain game, it should ultimately carry some meaning. Like you can teach mental strength via gamification or you can teach them subtle cunningness. The point is, when you are making efforts to achieve something, it should not be for nothing.
8. Demographics based rewards
Demography is important. People in Malaysia refer the elderly as “uncle”, “aunty”, and similar words, whereas Americans use first names for the same purpose. It is a small example and there are several factors which change with demography. If you are looking to introduce games for any particular regional audience, the rewards must commensurate with such regions.
9. Creating a leaderboard
What is the use of gamification if others don’t get to know about the winners. In an organization, if you create a leaderboard (say, based on efficiency), it will motivate others to perform better as well. Leaderboard is not only about gifts; it is an actual pictorial description of your performance in comparison to the rest.
10. Points for employee completing every year and extra points every five years in the organization
Which organization does not want to retain their human resources for a long term? In the fast-changing world, it has become increasingly difficult to retain employees. To ensure that your favourite employee doesn’t leave, you can introduce a point-based system where you deposit points for every completed year in the organization. These points can then be redeemed after a specific period, say three years.
11. Make Sure that everyone wins at least once
In a race, there are at least three winners. If you want to engage a bigger audience and ensure that they remain so for a period of time, you ought to give them a hope to win. Especially in an organization where everyone is like a family, it is imperative that you give out gifts, even to the weakest at times. It will help you hold their attention for long.
It is normal for employees or users to get stuck. We are humans, after all. Signposting is an important tool that lets users avail cues to help them continue their journey. An organization may plant these on crucial points from the onset or implement them as required. It will give them an added vigour to continue and will serve your purpose as well.
13. Mystery Boxes
We all love mysteries. Inquisitive people love the feeling of it, and even if you are not amongst those, it will still make you run a little faster than normal. You can use it as a technique to drive your employees when they are not at their best. A little bit of uncertainty can unravel the sides you had previously not known.
14. Give importance to time
Not every quest can run endlessly. If you want users to achieve something, give them an acceptable timeframe within which they must complete the quest. It will allow you to complete the objectives as well as move on to the next one on time. Most of the users don’t get the feeling to hurry and complete the task asap unless they are time bound.
15. Inculcate the habit of consequences
Certain people are not driven by goals. They work just for the sake of working. How do we ensure that they achieve the least we expect from them? Add consequences in the mix. If the user misses out on a particular mission, make them lose a life or points or anything valuable in the context of the game.
16. Give users an option to branch
I like technology; someone else may like History. In a gaming environment, there are users belonging to various mindsets with different affinities. You cannot expect everyone to like the only path you have. Instead, branch out the paths and let them choose. It will ensure that you get different results and who knows, you may get a rare gem in the process!
Examples that prove gamification’s real-life worth
If you observe, there are several real-life gamification examples which demonstrate its value
Nettium Atas System
Nettium is an e-commerce solution provider, who has introduced the ATAS (Always Trying to Achieve Something) system. It issues badges to its employees for completing milestones or achievements.
Starbucks, the coffee megastar, is also a part of gamification squad. It has a reward program which is simple and straightforward. All you have to do is to buy products from the app. You collect stars for every purchase. After you receive a specific number of stars, you get promoted to the next level.
Candy Crush Rewards
You win a lot of rewards while completing levels in your favourite Candy Crush. In addition to that, they offer login bonuses which gives you a special benefit for every day you log in. If you miss the streak, you will have to start all over again. It is a subtle way of engaging users and asking to log in at least once on to the app.
In addition to all the above examples, there are countless other real-life examples like LinkedIn’s Progress Bar, Microsoft’s achievements list and rewards, Buffalo Wild Wings’ trivial and challenges, etc.