THE LATEST BUZZ IN MARKETING
Gamification. Using Technology to Motivate
OLD PSYCHOLOGY, NEW TECHNOLOGY
Gamification is generating a lot of interest, not just from marketers but psychologists, sociologists and just about anyone who has a vested interest in understanding or influencing the behaviour of others. The term itself emerged as a way of categorising a growing trend of (mostly digital) marketing initiatives that take their inspiration directly from the world of gaming.
Essentially it’s about applying traditional game mechanics like points, leaderboards and badges to otherwise uninspiring tasks, in order to make them more compelling. Fiat Eco-Drive is an early example, Nike plus (and more recently Nike Grid) are others, using points and scoreboards to steer you through the process and get you spending more time with the brand.
At the heart of it is an idea touched on a few years ago by VW and their ‘Fun Theory’. Recycling is a chore because it makes throwing rubbish away more time consuming. If you turn it into a competitive game, then people are more inclined to take time out to do it - increased productivity through gaming.
As a proposition for business it’s attractive for obvious reasons. If you can turn the interactions you have with your customers into something more exciting, then you stand to hold much more of their attention, and if you can somehow get them addicted, then that’s even better. Games are an obvious source of inspiration for that kind of compulsion because they are designed to create addiction whilst evoking a sense of achievement.
- Games motivate us by offering constant rewards. They reassure us that what we are doing is right, and that we’re moving in the right direction.
- Nike Grid made amateur runners run further and faster for a whole month just by providing a context for their performance – either against each other or against themselves.
- Games draw you in. Once you’ve invested time in something, you become inevitably more reluctant to give it up. Game design works by getting you to gradually invest more and more. Facebook games like Farmville have perfected the balance of being immediately accessible, yet infinite in scope.
- Paying $10 for virtual farming products may seem ridiculous at first but becomes all the more rational once you’ve spent 30 hours building your farm
What makes this all the more appealing for business is that there’s a little bit of this compulsion in all of us, not just the stereotypical gaming market of teenage males. The rise of social gaming whose target is broad, has surprised a lot of people. According to a recent Nielsen survey, 10% of all time spent online is now spent playing games (overtaking time using email) and by far the fastest expanding online habit. The average Facebook gamer spends 45 minutes actively playing each day. Any brand that counts online engagement with their customers among their key performance measures should have an interest in an idea that generates that kind of devotion.
- Games feed our obsession with our own behaviour. They give us feedback, scoreboards, laptimes, weapon selections, stats.
- The more we understand about our own behaviour, the more we want to know and the more we want to change it. Fiat Eco-Drive made previously indifferent drivers want to change their driving style just by giving them feedback on everything from gear changes to tyre pressure to acceleration.
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