We all understand that an entertaining game can imply us much more tan other kind of tasks can do. But, although a lot of people think games are just a leisure source, there are a lot of different ways to use them in several areas. Education is a great example. Kids can settle their knowledge by using game dynamics that involve them and let them set more of the information they receive.
Games also contribute to the improvement of creativity and cooperation, as European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection maintains. If it is useful for children’s growth and development, why wouldn’t it help adults to learn and specialize in a certain area? These concepts lead to gamification, one of the newest trends that businessmen care more about. Its implementation has been facilitated by digital technologies that enhance this process quality, interactivity and data analysis.
An investigation carried out by Deloitte ensures companies will use gamification in 25% of their processes, and expects a turnover of 5,5 billion dollars in 2018.
But, what does gamification mean?
Gamification consists in using game and videogame dynamics and ideas in, mainly, business area, although it also applies to other sectors such as healthcare and education. To sum up its advantages, we can mention the famous gamification expert Yu-Kai Chou, who says it is the combination of routine and fun, so achieving the objetives of the company can be more pleasant.
It always has a certain target, so, according to this criteria, we have defined two types of gamification. Details of each one can be found below.
It is related to the own business plan, employees, corporate training, internal communication and even as a support used in working meetings, giving a bonus for participation and proactivity. We highlight five benefits:
It helps business management
There are virtual business plan simulators that allow us to redefine our business by trying different options, so they are especially useful for start-ups.
Games are often used by the human resources department. They usually determine the skills or necessary knowledge and use them to develop a gamification tool that allows them to find the talent they want for the company. It can also be used to explain working mechanism and it can promote integration and teamwork.
It enhances employees’ learning posibilities
Gamification contributes to improving knowledge gaps with corporate training. We can mention virtual simulators used for practical training of workers, where they can learn new skills by trying several possible options. Using virtual simulators avoids the fear of failure. As Sergio Jiménez, Gamification World Congress’ co-founder, explains: “Games offer a secure environment, where mistakes are not a big problem”. Triskelion is an example of these virtual simulators, focused on time management.
It improves internal communication
Nowadays, internal communication is an strategic value. It can transmit corporate culture and align company and employees’ values and objetives.
Gamification allows us to expand internal communication between departments and workers, improving teamwork and even narrowing the gaps of the organization chart, with a direct feedback. This will make the company’s image stronger between employees and it will lead them to a belonging sense that will enhance their motivation.
It motivates and implies employees
Game dynamics imply employees more, motivating them to reach some corporate goals that now they adopt as their own challenge. They can understand their purpose and role in a deep way, so the working environment will change, avoiding pessimistic and conformist attitudes.
Therefore, it increases productivity
Productivity gets improved by all the mentioned benefits.
Gamification is not only about learning or improving internal talent, but also an attractive way to receive information, which will increase the interest and attention we get from our target and will make us stand out. That’s why it is a good way to communicate with our customers or potential clients.
External gamification usually looks for interesting and enternaining experiences that can satisfy our clients. We link users to our brand in an emotional way, generating engagement and strengthening our corporate image.
If we add that viral impact, it is a great way to make the public want to start the interaction with the brand, which is really important in marketing processes such as customer acquisition, promotion or product releases.
We can learn more about target’s behaviour with a great feedback communication and attract more people to our business, so conversion rate will probably be increased too.
Event gamification can encourage assistants to be active in the event and gain points and badges, for example, while completing tests, quizzes, challenges, etc. It can even influence personal relations if we ask them to work in teams, highly recommended for internal purposes.
QR codes are another example of how gamification can be applied to real life, because we can find them in strategic places related to our business or in the point of sale. The experience will be more memorable than a simple purchase or event.
If we want to use gamification, we should know what our goal is, and also we would have to study our potential users and the strategy where it will belong. But, no matter what the goal is, there are some general tips in order to make our gamification success.
Engagement is a basic goal, so it has to be fun and use attractive challenges: if they are easy, it will be boring, but if they are too difficult, users will probably give up. A good idea is using a progressive difficulty, so players can adapt to higher levels.
We also have to use incentive and rewards. There are various kinds of tangible and intangible compensations: points, levels, badges, coupons, rankings… These achievements will let us measure users’ progress.
Another possibility is including social elements, such as creating a “virtual identity” by customizing our avatar and profile, or online communities where players can interact (for example, chats) and share their experiences, something really useful, especially for internal gamification.
We have to take into account responsive design and try to make it attractive, always transmitting the brand’s identity.
Gamification is not a goal itself, but one of the ways to reach it. We have to take into account our purpose, our target and what we want them to do.
Although it may seem so, it is not just a game. Developing and implementing it needs a great effort, otherwise it could fail, making our investment useless. It needs a good and structured planification, analyzing diverse factors and trying to innovate.
Gamification is usually applied to an organization as an strategy, but there are companies that are based in it, such us Duolingo, an online platform that offers the posibility of learning a new language by completing entertaining quizzes and questions and getting points, with the possibility of being part of different clubs.
So, where are the limits of gamification? The use of some tools (such as levels or rankings) is widespread, so, can we consider them gamification? Let’s take a look:
On the one hand, we can say TripAdvisor uses gamification, as it offers a point system. We can level up by letting reviews and rating places.
On the other hand, if we think gamification means something more than that, we will have to talk about internal platforms for improving employees’ skills or apps like Mini Lidl, a game for our mobile devices that lets everyone creating and managing a Lidl supermarket.
However, there are some common benefits, such as interactivity, motivation and a better communication, as long as it is properly implemented and using the best technologies at our disposal.