October 19th, 2014 Instructional Design

gamesIt may sound like something a kid may have termed, and in part it is something that appeals to the kid in all of us.

The increasing popularity of using game mechanics to enhance various concepts, companies, services and goods has grown substantially over the past decade.

With the continuing growth and development of the internet, social media, and global community, gaming has flourished as a viable median for communication.

What It Is

Coined in 2003, the term “gamification” did not take off in usage until about four years ago. Put simply, it is a system employed by a company or organization to appeal to everyone’s inherit desire to:

  • Compete with others
  • Feel they gained an achievement
  • Achieve a sense of status
  • Display their altruism
  • Feel like they are collaborating with a community

The use of badges, points, tracking, leaderboards, incentives, leveling, status ranks, and rewards are all different aspects that can be employed as part of gamification.

The earliest example of using gamification is when credit card companies began using a point system to earn frequent flyer miles. People were inspired to earn points and exchange them in for rewards.

Other examples are when companies have different levels of membership status and ranking based on money spent or reward points earned – often obtained through elearning.

Why It’s Good

Gamification can drive sales, encourage learning, and motivate consumers to invest. People are often enthralled by the idea of earning some sort of reward, especially if it coincides with something they like or a desired they wish to obtain.

Grocery stores are another great example of when a company uses gamification to encourage people to shop with them. Many of these stores use reward clubs that award points for purchases.

The points can be turned in for various rewards, from select items, discounts, or even money back in the form of an in-store coupon. Aside from increasing profits, it can also be used to improve customer loyalty. A good system will make people feel appreciated by the company.

The other aspect that organizations use gamification for is to encourage participation in events, such as charities and training (or elearning). Internally, employers use gamification to motivate employees to participate and be more involved in certain aspects of the business. For example, points can be awarded for attending training, and then cashed-in for an extra vacation day.

The basic concepts of appealing to those facets of the human psyche that thrive on reward can be applied in many areas of not only business, but education as well.

Outside of encouraging employees to further their education, teachers and even entire schools use similar systems. A basic points system used to buy rewards teaches students that hard work and good behavior are inherently profitable. In most schools, the easiest to recognize gamification can be seen in honor roll recognition programs.

Growth In Gamification

Beyond the already widespread concept seen in local organization, schools and business the concept has growing in worldwide recognition as a viable practice.

One research company, Gartner, predicts that by 2015 more than 70% of 2000 different global organizations they track will be using at least one form of gamification in their business practices. It is also shown that gamification has become vital for businesses to retain customers, as it has added another facet for these companies to remain competitive.

Over the coming years it is reasonable to expect a greater use of gamificaiton in a variety of ways. The basic points and badges method will always be relevant. However, new technologies, applications, and APIs will bring about new methods for effective gamification across a large variety of industries.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide. He is currently founder & CEO of GapScout. Justin's Homepage | GapScout | Twitter

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