Gamification: We Need to Play


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“Games are a powerful and unique force in that can get people to get a predictable action against their interest but without the use of force”– Zichermann

Games are intrinsic motivators and an important part of how people are connected. Supported by interactive techniques, games are a combination of goals, actions, motivations and emotions; improving performance, encouraging problem solving, developing system thinking and increasing engagement.

“Gamification is an ongoing process of using game thinking and mechanic to engage users. Engages users and changes their behaviour with the best ideas from games, loyalty and behavioural economics…I think it’s probably more like 75% to 25%, psychology to technology”– – Zichermann

Anytime you challenge yourself to achieve something and you achieve it, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine. This creates an addictive cycle of craving for more pleasure.
Challenge + Achievement = Pleasure
Like an addiction, adding such extrinsic motivators to a task requires a continual increase in the amount of reward to maintain the same level of motivation, taking more and more to feel good with a new high.

The power of play comes from setting up game mechanics into an engagement loop, creating emotions that drive to actions, enhancing customer experience and engagement.
You can’t design the emotion directly, but you can design the mechanic that offers the choice and actions to give the emotional customer experience. Nicole Lazzaro studied the four main reasons why people play games where each key unlocks a different set of play experiences. Because players alternate between them during a single play session, best selling games offer at least 3 of the 4 “Fun Keys”. Games craft emotions from novelty, challenge, friendship and meaning to create engagement, retention and monetization:
1. Challenge (Hard Fun): Players like the opportunities for challenge, strategy and problem solving. Their focus on the game’s challenge and strategic thinking and problem solving; this “Hard Fun” frequently generates emotions and experiences of frustration and ‘Fiero’.
2. Novelty (Easy Fun): Players enjoy intrigue and curiosity. Players become immersed in games when it absorbs their complete attention, or when it takes them on an exciting adventure. These immersive game aspects are “Easy Fun” and generate emotions and experiences of wonder, awe and mystery.
3. Meaning (Altered States): Players treasure the enjoyment from their internal experiences in reaction to the visceral, behaviour, cognitive and social properties. These players play for internal sensations such as excitement or relief.
4. Friendship (The People Factor):Players use games as mechanisms for social experiences. These players enjoy the emotions of amusement, schadenfreude, and naches that derive from the social experiences of competition, teamwork and opportunity.

The engagement loop isn’t static and will continually change according to each cycle stage, reinforcing the idea that gamification is an ongoing process that constantly needs to generate new emotions to trigger actions, in order to ehance the customer experience and engage players in this loop.
Amy Jo Kim presents the 4 Core Keys for creating this engaging customer experience:
1. Know your players: know their social styles, how they like to engage.
2. Know their life-stages: it’s essential to create a sustainable social system that can deliver an increased challenge and complexity as players’ skills improve.
3. Put PERMA:in the engagement loop, picking a game core emotion.
4. Progress mechanic: in a good game, the mechanic will guide toward learning and mastery and encourage new challenges.

As we see gamification is a growing trend. Gartner forecast that by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organisations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to expand business operations. Unfortunately, many early efforts never moved beyond tactically layering on points, badges, and leader boards to pockets of the business. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives .

Key learning topics:
– Gamification is not just giving out free stuff, like badges, points etc, because this is insufficient to create engagement with the user. Although many games use points and badges to reward specific behaviour, it is important to understand that the motivational power of using points and badges attenuates over time, and only a fraction of gamers play primarily for points. Rewards are only one reason why people play games. More than a quest for points and badges, games create their legendary engagement with specific emotional responses from player actions.

– It’s not only creating a game, but taking the best lessons from games and applying them in a specific situation.

– Fun and theme are not correlated. Everything can be fun and engaging in turn, but a theme isn’t always fun.

Elisa Mendes
I'm passionate about interpreting and translating quantitative and qualitative data into customer insights and market trends. Pop Up is an extension of this passion and aims to share my thoughts about some of the main marketing trends. As the name of the blog reveals, PopUp intends to share these ideas in a punchy and impactful way.I hope you can also contribute for this blog by commenting and expressing your opinions. So please, feel free to express your "PopUp" mind!


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