Executive Summary: Gamification of Applications

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Overview

Do you have business applications in your organization that users under your charge complain about using or don’t use at all? Why would you, they’re boring. This is where gamification comes in. Gamification is the use of game thinking and mechanics on non-game applications to engage users. Put simply it’s a useful way of making people do things they would rather not do by making them fun.

A simple example is filling out an expense report. Why not link completing expense reports promptly and accurately to a scoring system that is available to other coworkers. Reward systems common the video game world such as achievement badges and scores can be applied to saving per diem money, getting a deal on a hotel room, or submitting a report promptly after returning from a trip. This could ultimately save the organization money and increase employee participation. These scores could be kept on a leader board and rewards given to the top performers.

Positive Impacts

  • User motivation
  • Positive competition
  • Employee performance

Negative Impacts

  • Increased complexity
  • User backlash
  • Novelty effect

Impact on Business

Like many trends in business gamification is a double edged sword. In one situation it could work great and in another it could fail miserably. It has been estimated that by 2014 that 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet the business goals they were developed for. The primary reason for this outcome is poor design. It’s important to get it right the first time and be ready to scrap a gamification idea that don’t perform well. Those developing the application must be creative and have a solid understanding of game theory.

Recommendation

Gamification is new and should be approached careful and intentionally before committing resources to a project. An 80% failure rate indicates these nascent techniques have some maturing to do. In time techniques will mature, best practices surface, and patterns develop. The idea is grounded in human psychology which is not subject to fads or trends. You have time to wait and see, use it.

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