Motivation for Gamification
Gamification describes the use of game mechanics and experience design – a story line, for instance – to digitally engage employees and customers, writes Gartner consultant Brian Burke in his gamification primer, Gamify.
As with many new technological trends in the workplace, gamification is often misunderstood or overhyped, Burke writes. Gamification does not mean turning work processes into a video game (giving a sales manager a virtual gun and turning individual salespeople into virtual targets does not motivate salespeople to be more competitive). Nor will a game turn a dreary job into a fun-filled, joyful exercise. What gamification can accomplish, he writes, is to motivate people to change their behaviors or to develop their skills, and can also drive innovation.
Three Elements of Motivation
Gamification works because it addresses the three elements of motivation:
Autonomy. Gamification allows people to opt in, then make their own choices as they proceed through the game.
Mastery. Everyone has a deep-seated desire to improve and make progress. Perhaps full mastery is not possible in gamification as in real life, but gamification provides the constant positive feedback that motivates people to keep trying harder.
Purpose. Gamification is different from traditional games because there is an overriding purpose. Unlike a game, which is simply created to entertain, gamification “engages players at an emotional level to help them achieve a goal that is meaningful to them,” Burke writes.
For example, Burke describes how a hospital for children developed a game app to encourage sick children to keep up their pain journals. These journals are important for doctors to know which treatments are working, but children, especially those having a bad day, are not always motivated to fill out the journal. With the iPhone “Pain Squad” app, children become members of a police force who progress through the ranks depending on how many days in a row they fill in their journals.
Gamified solutions are usually targeted at one of three audiences: employees, customers and communities of interest (for example, ecologically-minded people who through Internet-based gamification are encouraged to recycle).
The Pain Squad example above illustrated how gamification was able to engage customers – in this case, the sick children – to change their behaviors. Barclaycards uses gamification to engage customers in driving innovation for their Barclaycard Ring credit card. This low-rate credit card is unique because it operates as a separate profit center, and “profits generated by the community are shared with the community,” Burke writes. Through status tiers (bronze, silver, gold, platinum and palladium) and badges, Barclayscard Ring members are pushed to participate in developing the community by suggesting or voting on ideas that would improve the product, or taking such actions as recruiting new members.
NTT Data uses its Ignite Leadership game to identify and develop leadership skills among their employees, many of whom are dispersed to various client sites, some of them for years and even decades. Under such circumstances, they lose their connection with the company. Ignite Leadership creates real-world-scenario questions and allows the player to choose among a multitude of options; there is no right answer. The training is structured as a journey, with points and badges awarded at different levels and a leaderboard that shows player rankings.
These are just three of Burke’s many examples as he illustrates the wide variety of situations in which gamification can be used. In the second half of the book, Burke offers a detailed, step-by-step process for gamification, starting with defining the business outcomes, target audiences, and player goals and moving on to such issues as the player engagement model (for example, is the game collaborative or competitive, emergent with an unknown outcome or scripted?).
In Gamify, Burke reveals the full complexity and potential of gamification but presents his material in a succinct, clearly organized manual that will motivate leaders to follow the example of the successful companies featured in the book.