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Gamification Defined: What is Gamification?

Gamification Defined: What is Gamification?

If you’ve recently hitched a ride on the gamification bandwagon, you have probably come across various definitions and controversies around the topic.

Gamification Defined
Gamification Defined

The above definition is made up of multiple pieces, forming the picture of the gamification puzzle as Engaming sees it. These pieces were taken from popular definitions by industry guru’s and well-known resources online, and are described in more detail below.
Gamification is…

Gamification: Loyality Programs, Behavioral Economics, Game Design
Source: Bunchball

1. A Marketing Concept

  • Although not always explicitly stated, experts agree in the use of gamification for driving customer engagement, which increases desired behavior like sales, website traffic and brand loyalty.
    Part of the controversy around gamification is whether it’s a new or old idea. To marketers, it’s a new marking strategy, and to game experts it’s not. For them, gamification is simply proven game design elements re-purposed for marketing use.

2. Uses Game Mechanics or Design

  • Game mechanics includes points, levels, badges, challenges, virtual goods, leaderboards and gifts. These features are the vehicles that deliver the benefits to the user which is based on game theory.

3. Uses Game Theory or Thinking

  • Game theory speaks to meeting the customers’ core needs of reward, status, achievement, self-expression, competition and altruism.

4. For Non-Game Use

  • Using game theory and design in a non-game setting differentiates gamification from serious (Halo) or social (FarmVille) games. The gaming elements enhance non-game situations found in real life, websites, and social media campaigns.
  • Nike+ : Nike launched a mobile and multi-platform application that tracked customers running behavior, and used this data to create competition, a sense of achievement, and altruism through leader boards, GPS tracking and integration with social media.

5. To Drive Desired Behavior

  • Gamification is in line with the new paradigm of customer loyalty. (Video: Barry Kirk )
  • What Customers Want: Richer Loyalty Program, Social Recognition, and Exclusive Rewards.
  • Businesses need a loyalty program that provides an experience, taps into emotions, promotes the brand, differentiates from competition, and is cost efficient.

CAUTION: Gamification has its Skeptics

  • Some guru’s view gamification as a concept created by marketers who think throwing badges on a couple of websites will solve their customer engagement problems.
  • Gamification is NOT about “Point-ification” or “Badge-ification”, like all business practices, a sound marketing strategy needs to be in place. A successful strategy will be one that is focused on the user experience, make sense for that industry and brand, and is linked to business objectives and goals.
  • Foursquare: Has been criticized by guru’s for its shallow experience. (Video: Sebastian Deterding)
  • See Ian Bogost’s post on “Gamification is Bullshit”
Gamification or Spyware?

Gamification or Spyware?

Are You Checking-in or Getting Robbed with Foursquare?

please rob me
please rob me

Foursquare is the mobile application that allows users to “check-in” to locations like Joe’s restaurant, where customers can then earn points and badges to become the “Mayor” of Joe’s restaurant. These points and badges are examples of gamification, and bring real value like status and discounts to the customer. You’re friends see where you check-in, but who else does?

A site called Please Rob Me will show you how non-private your check-in’s – and tweets!- actually are, and how anyone, even people looking to rob you, can use this information for evil.

Win or Lose with FamScape?

FamScape is an online social game for personal wellness created by American insurance company Humana.

FamScape connects users with others in user-created villages, has challenges such as attending yoga classes, practicing music or surfing, and gives users points based on the completion of challenges. The awarded points can be used to acquire in-game items, such as enhancements to the member’s village. In the premium version, members can earn real-world rewards, such as gift certificates and discounts on popular household items. Oh, and it’s free!

Humana says that the purpose of this game is, “to motivate players to achieve healthy-living goals.” Sounds ethical enough, and even fun, right?

However, some claim that health insurers, and others, are using games to collect user data and then sell that data for big bucks. For example, Walgreens data-selling business brings in just around $800 million per year! Barbara Duck wrote a great article called, “Gamification – You have won and now we know all about you“, where in addition to introducing us to some new examples of gamification, she outlines how gamification is being used as a platform to mine data.

“You are the Product”

In conclusion, EnGaming thinks that when it comes to playing for free, and having your data mined, or paying a membership and getting privacy – we’ll take the privacy! There needs to be a shift in consumer thinking to (1) start valuing privacy and (2) expect to pay for virtual goods and services.