11:38 AM

Gamification and Content? Yes, really....

Let me start off by saying: I'm not a gamer. Never was. No shocker that my first reaction to the term 'Gamification' was less than favorable and I wasn't going to waste a moment of my time on such nonsense.

Three minutes later, I've opened a dozen browser tabs with various search results for Gamification, Gamify, Game Layer, Game Dynamics, Game Mechanics, there's no shortage of related terms. Having dabbled in the MMO and MMORPG industry (business planning, not playing), I was definitely intrigued...but not convinced about its use for non (video) gaming applications. Then I found these two videos:
1. Seth Priebatsch's TEDxBoston talk (July 2010), The Game Layer On Top Of The World. 
Seth talks about the "game layer" being constructed on top of the existing social infrastructure (which Priebatsch notes is already established and is called Facebook). At the root of it: gamification has the potential to motivate and drive behavior towards specific actions and outcomes.

2. Jesse Schell's infamous DICE 2010 Design Outside the Box presentation. 
Perhaps you're one of the million people who already viewed the video, Jesse has an entertaining and quirky way of presenting the 'unexpected' and the possibilities. He presents how game mechanics and dynamics could - and will - soon apply to our everyday lives.

Gamification 101
Gamification is the use of game design, game dynamics, and game mechanics in non-gaming applications. In other words, it's NOT about playing video games at work and having a game controller instead of a keyboard. 

Summarizing the two key terms defined by Michael Wu, Ph.D Lithium's Principal Scientist of Analytics, on the Lithium blog:

"At the most fundamental level, gamification is the use of game mechanics to drive game-like engagement and actions....in everyday life, we are often presented with activities we hate, whether it is boring chores or stressful works. Gamification is the process of introducing game mechanics into these abhorred activities to make them more game-like (i.e. fun, rewarding, desirable, etc.), so that people would want to proactively take part in these tasks."

Wu continues about game mechanics. "They are principles, rules, and/or mechanisms that govern a behavior through a system of incentives, feedback, and rewards with reasonably predictable outcome. Some of them are so predictable that they can almost be seen as a kind of behavioral or psychological reflex, much like the patellar reflex of your knee when tapped by a physician."

What does this mean for Work?
Sky's the limit! While gamification is only in its infancy, given the rapid adoption of consumer-based applications, like social networking and communities, into the work environment (given a fancy industry term called 'Consumerization of IT'), it will ramp up quickly. While more prevalent in B2C markets, the opportunity to increase participation in learning, education, loyalty programs and product innovation and testing is ubiquitous.

Where is this going in 2011?
Gabe Zichermann, author of Game-Based Marketing (2010) and industry pioneer, writes about the 5 Predictions for Game Mechanics in 2011. Notably, this presents a big opportunity for the consumer space, he calls out the 'big brands' to drive customer engagement, brand loyalty and brand awareness.

R Ray Wang writes how Gamification Will Drive Future Enterprise Software User Experiences in Trends: 5 Engagement Factors For Gamification And The Enterprise which outlines how the enterprise can apply game mechanics and dynamics to improve engagement and participation within the business and also with partners, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

What's this got to do with Content?
  • Social was about connecting, collaborating and engaging with others. We saw Content become increasingly (now exponentially) user-generated. Gamification is about participation, motivating behavior and rewards. Content will be much more pervasively co-created as well as user-generated.
  • Digital content is the current standard; gamification requires mobile access, delivery and publishing for all content, content/social/gaming objects and their associated interactions and processing.
  • Content marketing was the new black in 2010 and will evolve to becoming interactive and immersive (gamified) in 2011.
  • Content strategy and strategists will be essential element for planning and execution.

Gamification is a new opportunity for innovation, monetization and productivity.There are already some well documented successes:

How companies adopt and deploy 'gamification' is yet to be seen. I recently published an article via CMS Wire that looks at the potential to improve sales enablement and productivity through gamification. While many have doubts about the validity and value in the non-gaming world, the industry research and support suggests that it's not a passing fad:

I'm sure we'll see a few business-related early adopter / experimental applications in 2011. From my perspective, a lens that combines enterprise software, mobility and MMORPG  experience, I see several immediate opportunities:
  • Product Testing: as noted above about the success Microsoft has experienced
  • Sales Productivity: there's no better captive audience to deploy an incentive-based, reward-driven, status granting gamified application. We joke that sales is coin operated; what if we gave them lots of virtual coins for giving feedback, co-creating content and  participating with communities? As noted above, I detail some examples via CMS Wire.
  • User Adoption: gamify learning systems and work process. Whether it's onboarding, product training or domain/subject/application specific learning - make the experience tolerable and potentially fun. The more end users who know how to use a system, application or process - this will increase productivity and even may lower the TCO of enterprise software purchases and implementations.
What's your perspective on this concept? Any examples of failed or fantastic case studies? Feel free to write your POV or link to other resources on this topic.


brianwyrick said...

Awesome post!

Angelique said...

Great writing Corinne - lots of great stuff to ponder.

Jim Lefevere said...

great post. Thanks, I learned alot.