The game of gamification

JoystickLast week I supported and attended my first IOIC Conference in Bristol. The three days were brilliant and one of my highlights was the session on gamification. Hosted by Tim Hall from Cognify the room listened intently to his overview of how gamification can be used in business, properly. Then we played a little game ourselves and I asked Tim to pull together his findings to share with you here.

Over to you Tim:

The game of gamification

I had the pleasure of presenting some of the theory behind gamification at 2013 IOIC conference last week and was very fortunate to have a room full of friendly and professional communicators (especially for my first public speaking gig!). Also included for first time was an exercise that I created to demonstrate the effects that game mechanics have on audiences. So, a newly created gamification workshop and a hundred strangers, what could go wrong?

Well nothing….In fact, the exercise gave some startling results and insight into how people behave using even the simplest of game mechanics.

The exercise was in two parts – the first was an individual achievement activity that used a simple objective and a sprinkling of completive spirit to obtain an initial benchmark result.

The second part is where it got very interesting. In the second part, I introduced team achievement using the same activity, but this time thickly laid on the competitive spirit. In this half, each of teams could influence the outcome of the game through a team colour scoring mechanism.

My first observation was how eerily quiet the room was during the second activity; it seemed that the opportunity of influencing the whole game gave everyone so much focus and determination they had little room for conversation.

I then noticed the team on the table directly in front of me collectively agreeing to hide their results so they wouldn’t draw attention from other teams, and in turn protect their score. According to Bartle gamer psychology, these individuals displayed the classic ‘killer’ gamer trait, individuals who thrive on competing with others and bending the rules of play to ensure their success – it couldn’t have been anymore enlightening.

While I find my observations interesting, they are nowhere near as compelling as the cold hard numbers. The total room results showed a marked increase of over 61% in the second part of the exercise. Even taking a little poetic licence from self-scoring into the equation, it’s still a huge uplift in productivity. Time for gamification workshop mark II, I think!

Call of duty: to gamify your Comms

JoystickThere have been a few reports out since the start of the year and all exploring the key trends for 2013… Chatting to my fellow IC crowd founders the other day got me thinking about some of these and I think we need to look a little deeper…

As the rise of social continues (you can see my thoughts that the future is not social here) we are constantly looking at ways to engage people with shiny new tools.

We can invest all the money in the budget on the tool but if you don’t invest in the launch it will never really work. I have this conversation about every initiative the business does, please put budget aside to tell people why you’re doing what you’re doing!

But back to social and a key trend of 2013 which is gamification. In a world of budget cuts and organisational change adding a bit of gaming to a tool should be great right? Almost. Whilst most people play games and with the rise of the smart phone more people are playing games than ever before it doesn’t necessarily mean the principles can be applied across social tools:

Badges for activity

But what activity? You can get a badge for your first comment online, but what if that comment is offensive? Or you get one for adding a profile picture and that too is something inappropriate. Basic gamification like this does not necessarily engage the right behaviours so whilst it is a key trend I do think we need to consider how it is applied.

It’s fun, but will people use it?

As the Olympics came to town we explored an online game to track sales throughout the period. It was a great concept of an avatar athlete that got stronger the more sales he/she made. We could have spent a fair amount on the project but I pulled it before we got it off the ground. Why? Because the business couldn’t forecast the impact of the Olympics and with such an unknown I couldn’t justify the spend nor the time when I had teams that didn’t even know if they would be open!

I’d still like to do something one day but  it needs to be right for the business, support the strategy and enhance the culture. Would love to hear examples where this has landed well that we could all learn from to embrace the trend for 2013.