Gamification has been gaining traction during the past years considering the perceived benefits the method brings to office productivity and motivation, customer loyalty programs, and education, among others. While some organizations believe that it has helped move their businesses forward, some believe that the use of gamification, or the application of game mechanics and rules in non-game applications, could lead to abusive use of the concept. Just like other concepts, gamification is beneficial to organizations when implemented correctly, but can produce misleading results when abused.
Using the principles behind games, gamification aids in solving issues whether in companies or educational institutions. The concept is applied to motivation, learning, customer engagement, retail, quality work output, and more. It is similar to providing incentives to employees, clients, or students when goals are accomplished. This is because people are inherently incentive-driven, which means the more “pats on the back” or recognition are given to them, the more positive the attitude becomes (Smith, 2012).
Potential Benefits of Gamification
Despite what some scholars claim, gamification is an attractive concept that could help any organization improve its office approaches, motivate and retain employees, customer loyalty programs, and augment learning experiences in schools, among others. It helps increase an individual’s motivation to perform better and tap one’s inner competitiveness to produce superior results.
Adamson (2012) claimed that in schools, games have been “widely accepted [as] a method of learning but as technology evolves[d], so does the level of engagement students have with the games they are playing in class”. By rewarding students incrementally through “badges, trophies, points, and the chance to ‘unlock’ achievements” (Adamson, 2012), students’ sense of achievement and motivation increase as well. Adamson further added that gamification allows students to experience other ways of learning, thus, the way they see themselves and the world around them changes, too. This provides an avenue for them to experiment, increase their learning, and find other solutions to problems and assignments in school.
In office organizations, the application of gamification have been incorporated in office operations including job functions as exemplified by Starbucks, Nike+, Hurricane Sandy, and FourSquare (Simon, 2014). This is because today’s working generation are mostly gamers who are familiar with various game rules. Jeff Canter, CEO of Uptivity says, “gamifying job functions can be a great way to inspire better employee performance and improve customer satisfaction as well as staff engagement and retention” (Simon, 2014). In addition, companies are already following this method in the workplace considering that there are various software that constantly track and measure employee productivity through job goals and evaluations. When an employee performs well, then incentives are given, which further push the employee to produce better results next time (Manjoo, 2014).
Potential Pitfalls of Gamification
While gamification may seem to address issues such as motivation, results, and experimentation, it also presents various problems when the concept and process of gamification is not implemented properly.
Smith (2012) pointed out that motivation could only be shallow and external without regard to the internal feelings of achieving and overcoming a situation. For instance, in Smith’s (2012) example, he used the frequent flyer miles program to show that by using a particular credit card or airline every time an individual travels, one receives frequent flyer miles that the individual could use in the future. However, if it would take the individual years to achieve the required miles for traveling, then the individual does not get to enjoy the supposed mileage points earned. Thus, what the individual only gets is bragging rights that he or she has earned such number of points. In this case, only the company benefits, thus, would not lead to customer loyalty (Smith, 2012).
Bogost (2011) pointed out that gamification only benefit companies as it is a marketing ploy to attract loyal customers, thus, it should be called “exploitationware” (Bogost, 2011) instead as it only takes advantage of people’s money and competitive spirit to achieve more, but in the end, the customers and employees themselves fall short of the process.
I think the concept of gamification is good as it provides an element of excitement on processes and systems that are otherwise dry. The intention of companies who adhere to this new system is clear and clean in that they would like to add a new dimension to their programs, whether at the office environment or educational front, and make the experience more exciting for the user in the hope that it would make them become more competitive and stay motivated all throughout the experience. In addition, as technology advances, it is inevitable for companies to find ways on how their processes should evolve as well. For me, gamification is an opportunity to shake things up and create pleasant experiences for all. It should not be taken negatively considering how it could help improve users experience. In all these, companies and educational institutions that intend to incorporate and implement gamification into their programs should ensure to study and carefully design the resulting rules in order to maximize its potential.
Adamson, C. (2012). The game of motivation: Gamification and augmented reality in education. Online Educa Berlin. Retrieved from http://www.online-educa.com/OEB_Newsportal/the-game-of-motivation-gamification-and-augmented-reality-in-education/
Bogost, I. (2011). Gamification is bullshit. Ian Bogost Blog. Retrieved from http://www.bogost.com/blog/gamification_is_bullshit.shtml
Manjoo, F. (2014). High definition: The ‘gamification’ of the office approaches. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303819704579316721461148950
Simon, G. (2014). Why 70% of Forbes Global 2000 organizations are building #gamification apps.” Technorati. Retrieved from http://technorati.com/technology/it/article/why-70-of-forbes-global-2000/
Smith, J. (2012). The benefits and pitfalls of gamification. Web Design. Retrieved from http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/the-benefits-and-pitfalls-of-gamification--webdesign-6454