Gamifying me 0.1

I am the Podgemeister General. 

A week ago I stood on the scales and I was 14st 13lb.  That weight would be acceptable if I was an international rugby player, however, it seems that currently the Welsh rugby squad is strong enough to cope without me. 13st 10lb is about fine for me as a normal weight – 14st 13lb is only about fine for me if I was holding my daughter at the same time. To be clear, when I was on the scales I wasn’t holding my daughter.

A brisk sprint through Gamification

Earlier this year I took an online course through Coursera on Gamification, hosted by Kevin Werbach (https://www.coursera.org/course/gamification) . Gamification is the concept of taking the science behind games and applying it to real world situations.  It is becoming increasingly popular (as it proves very effective) and comes in pure forms (creating a whole world for people to experience) to lighter forms where you will recognise badges, levels etc without necessarily recognising it as ‘a game’. You might be part of a forum and notice stars and levels next to people’s names – this is to give them a sense of progress and achievement – mechanics that game designers have been refining for years. Consumers spent $20.77 billion on video games, hardware, and accessories in 2012 (ref: http://www.theesa.com/facts/). It is a serious business ,with serious people, who understand almost perfectly what makes us tick.  A computer game budget can now be as much as a Hollywood movie – so the teams working behind the scenes to understand what mechanics get people coming back time and time again are in the top of their field.

There are instances of successful gamification that you might not have reflected upon: when everyone was suddenly moving about AND playing computer games when the Wii was released? Gamification of physical activity. This was enhanced with the Wii Fit and Wii Sports – you were enjoying exercise whilst you beat scores, played with friends and progressed through games. It made exercising easy, fun and rewarding. Recently Aviva have gamified driving your car –  see video below – you get your car insured, your driving skills rated and you get to share your skills on Facebook. Suddenly people are competing to see how well they can drive – and Aviva can take your money knowing you are less likely to crash,,,

Richard Bartle came up with a useful way of categorising gamers called Gamer Types (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_Test), The four categories typically used are

  • Achievers – gamers pushing on for recognition or to test themselves
  • Explorers – gamers who like being able to do things at their own pace, discovering things others might not notice
  • Socialisers – gamers who are there for the community rather than the game itself
  • Killers – gamers who thrive on competition and outdoing others

For anyone who says that games aren’t relevant to business I’d ask you to look at the list again. Seemingly if you can tap into those motivations people will be having fun and achieving without noticing. If you can create communities, a sense of progress, an opportunity for people to elect to compete and space for people to explore – you are creating an environment that people would choose to be part of. That is why gamification is useful – it isn’t a fad, it’s been about as long as fun has been – and probably since warriors chalked up their kills for other people to see them or people competed on cold nights to see who could get the fire started first.

It isn’t the next big thing, it is a part of our toolkit that we are starting to understand, one that provides us with evenmore opportunity to help businesses and people succeed. It isn’t just about games in training – but also about socialisation of performance management and possibly even pay.

So does it work then?  

In short, yes. It can work when used well http://goo.gl/mXiBJz – although unsuprisingly you’ll also hear of failures where people have just thrown in a game without thought of culture fit or outout or people and -puzzlingly – this has proved less successful. It isn’t a silver bullet – it’s another tool.

You joined me when I was 14st 13lb . I’ve been using an app called ‘Mapmywalk’  this week that gives me all sorts of stats and typical gamification features (how do I compare to yesterday’s walk? what is my speed? what’s my biggest climb? How do I compare to other people doing the route? Congratulations, here is a badge for being quickest up that hill). The app has helped build habits and encouraged me to stick to them –  it’s allowed me to email my route and stats – my success and effort-  to my wife and friends (sociable), encouraged me to try new paths (explore) and to push on for slightly longer and quicker walks (achievements).  in short, getting fit has become a game.

I’ve just got back from a walk that has now become my favourite – a bit quicker than last week, but no less enjoyable. I lost 8lb in seven days. No funky diet, no starvation, no punishing regimes (I had two bbqs and a couple of beers…) – just playing by the rules of the game. Update: I’m now down to 13st 13lb (as of 14/08)

We want business to be fun – and we want people to try

People enjoy games and put effort into succeeding in them

Not complicated to put them together.

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