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Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
Gamification: Future or Fail?
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Gamification: Future or Fail?


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This deck is based on a paper we wrote for the SAMRA 2011 conference. It's a short introduction to some of the ideas underlying the concept of "gamification". …

This deck is based on a paper we wrote for the SAMRA 2011 conference. It's a short introduction to some of the ideas underlying the concept of "gamification".

It also details the results from a simple experiment we conducted to measure the effectiveness of gamifying an online community. We were restricted by a tight deadline and the existing capabilities of the online platform we partnered with, but the results are still pretty clear (although small base sizes makes it difficult to draw solid conclusions). To follow up these tantalising results, we are writing another paper for ESOMAR Congress that collects more numbers describing the effectivness of gamification.

I had a lot of fun illustrating the deck. Hope you enjoy reading it.

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  • Gamification is a very new term and the field has not had time to settle on accepted definitions. As a result, some confusion can arise as to what gamification is, and what it is not. We have already discussed what it is, so let us now look at what it is not. There are two main things that gamification is not. Gamified experiences are not simply video games. Similarly, just because something looks like a game, does not imply that it is. For an experience to be considered a game in Day’s mind, it needs to include the following elements:“Voluntary restrictive rules that people agree to follow in order to be "playing" the game. We know we're playing.Sets of interesting choices that players must make in order to engage in the act of "play". We have to feel like we're the ones doing the playing, not that we're being "played".Players construct, test and refine mental models of the processes, strategies and systems that make up a single "game" experience. If we're not learning, we're not playing.” Ewing expands further, suggesting that real games incorporate:“The idea of “play”: when a task becomes enjoyable or distracting for its own sake as well as what it’s trying to achieveThe idea of competition, against others or one’s previous achievementsThe idea of rules – that there’s a ‘game environment’ with artificial and pre-determined things you can and can’t do. The extent to which the environment acknowledges the breakability of these rules is an important factor in what type of game is being played. I’d say that rules and competition are what separates “play” from “game” maybe?The idea of imagination – there’s a creative, fictive component to gameplay which is probably the most untapped by marketers, at least consciously” The absence of these kinds of elements means that the experience probably isn’t a compelling game, even if it is decked out in all the trappings of a game.
  • Video gamesThe term “game” conjures up very strong emotions for people, often of frivolous fun, an absence of work and possibly the shirking of one’s duties. However, an experience does not need to look overtly like a game in order to be compelling and engaging. For example, Facebook is probably the most successful non-game game ever invented. It has implemented game mechanics and reward structures that keep a large portion of the world’s population coming back several times a day. Yet, Facebook has no mascot, complimentary colours, traditional level structures or anything else that we would usually associate with a game.
  • Gamification refers to the “gamifying” of traditionally non-game processes and experiences through the purposeful introduction of mechanics that are designed to elicit specific, predictable behaviours, while simultaneously absorbing individuals in the experience by making it engaging and compelling. It is important to make the distinction upfront between what we traditionally mean by “games” (e.g. video games, board games, party games, etc.) and a “gamified” experience. Gamification does not entail the turning of a traditionally serious experience (such as filling out your tax return or a research survey) into a gaudy, frivolous entertainment experience. Instead, it is the identification of the subtle mechanics that make traditional games motivating, rewarding and engaging; and the incorporation of these elements into experiences that currently lack them. The potential value of gamification for business is an increased level of customer engagement. In a market research context, gamification potentially allows researchers to improve respondent engagement through methodologies that respondents find compelling rather than fatiguing, thus eliciting deeper and more valuable insights. This paper is not about creating the next FarmVille or Super Mario Bros.
  • Gamification author, Gabe Zicherman [2010] points out that gamified experiences are long-term engagement systems that require care and nurturing. They are not instant fixes. Zicherman imagines a future where every company will have a "Chief Engagement Officer" tasked with managing user engagement around company offerings. It is possible to argue that marketers, sociologists, game designers and policy makers have been doing this for years anyway. The difference that gamification brings to the table is twofold:The experience of the video game industry, which makes more money than Hollywood, and……millions of people who have grown up playing games, with an implicit assumption about how an experience should work in terms of structure and reward In evolutionary terms, this means that the video games industry has honed the business of making experiences fun and engaging through a process of natural selection involving repeated trial and error to arrive at system mechanics that work.
  • Examples of such mechanics might include: Achievement: People like to win and have a feeling of control or mastery over their actions. This is a very basic human drive that can be harnessedAppointment dynamic: “A dynamic in which to succeed, one must return at a predefined time to take some action.” e.g. happy hour at your local pub [Priebatsch, 2010]Communal Discovery: “wherein an entire community is rallied to work together to solve a riddle, a problem or a challenge. Immensely viral and very fun.” [Priebatsch, 2010]See Appendix 1 in the written paper for an extensive list of game mechanics.
  • But Haven’t We Seen This All Before?For as long as they have been around, scientists and business people have tried to manipulate the way that people behave. Many fields are devoted to this, for example:Cybernetics is an inter-disciplinary field first developed in the mid 20th century. It is concerned with creating a rule structure for a system (natural or social) such that the rules define the shape of the system, and thus dictate the behaviour of the parts within the system. Control Theory is closely related to cybernetics, but has been specifically applied in engineering and mathematics, where rules are put in place to regulate dynamics systems by defining their operating space. It relies on feedback to control its input variables in response to output.Behaviourist theories, like those espoused by B.F. Skinner, sought to change behaviour through the use of reward and punishment schedules, where individuals are either rewarded for performing a desired action or punished for performing an undesirable action.Behaviour Change is generally associated with public health policies (e.g. obesity, spread of HIV, etc.). Its focus is on the effective implementation of policies designed to encourage individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices [Wikipedia, 2011].Behavioural Economics recognises our brains’ limited capacity to process decisions and that our cognitive biases often steer us away from purely rational decisions. Behavioural economics employs social, cognitive and emotional factors to affect economic behaviour.  As we can see, there is much overlap between existing areas of science and the goals of gamification, which include the engagement of an individual in an experience or process that guides them in a desired direction to a preferred outcome. Gamification, whether deliberately or not, borrows many concepts from these established fields.
  • What’s in a name?Even within the realm of gamification, there is not a 100% consensus on the term and its definition. According to Jesse Schell, the term “gamification” is just the tip of the iceberg of an idea that has far larger implications for society [Gamespot, 2011]. Other terms that are often associated with the trend, either rightly or wrongly, include:Game mechanics which refers to the actual rules and mechanisms that are employed to create the structured experience. Examples of such mechanics might include: Appointment dynamic: “A dynamic in which to succeed, one must return at a predefined time to take some action.” e.g. happy hour at your local pub [Priebatsch, 2010]Communal Discovery: “wherein an entire community is rallied to work together to solve a riddle, a problem or a challenge. Immensely viral and very fun.” [Priebatsch, 2010]See Appendix 1 for an extensive list of game mechanics.Gaming dynamics are related to game mechanics but recognise that different people respond to the same incentives and rewards differently. Whereas game mechanics are static rules put in place to define the shape of an experience, game dynamics adjust the rules and mechanics in response to the player’s performance and the current game state. Game theory, which has very little to do with gamification. Game theory is an area of mathematical economics developed in the mid-20th century in order to predict individual choices within specific real-world and hypothetical scenarios (such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma).Serious games refer to experiences where the outcome has a real-world impact and, thus, is more than just a game played for personal enjoyment. Examples include game researcher, Jane McGonigal’s, Evoke, an alternate reality game (ARG) created for the World Bank Institute wherein participants create social and technological innovation and development.Badgificationorpointsification is a pejorative term that describes the implementation of shallow aesthetics and mechanics (e.g. badges, bright colours, progress bars) without giving due attention to the underlying mechanics which are the true driving force behind real engagement. Game design is the process of creating a game, often purely for entertainment purposes.
  • Hijacking the Brain: How does gamification work?Gamification it taps into the deep-seated, primal tendencies and biases that have been sculpted over time by evolution to maximise our chances of survival. 10,000 years ago, we used these deeply ingrained biases and tendencies to effectively navigate our natural environment. Today, games have become adept at pushing these same buttons to create sensations of enjoyment and reward. Tom Chatfield [2010] identifies several ways in which games push our buttons: Experience systems give us a sense of achievement for reaching milestones and keep us working towards them. For example, the LinkedIn progress bar shows how much profile information you still need to provide and outlines the simple steps you need to take to achieve that goal.Short- and long-term goals in parallel allow us to achieve on a micro scale while simultaneously making progression towards the macro goal seem more manageable. Rewards for effort (i.e. positive reinforcement) trigger releases of feel-good chemicals in our brain, which train us towards desired behaviour. For example, Foursquare rewards users with badges for checking in the most times at a specific venue (mayor badge).Rapid, frequent, clear feedback in response to a user’s actions which also sets off the reward centres in our brains. For example, Facebook is addictive partly because it allows its users to receive real-time feedback in response to their comments and Likes.An element of uncertainty is crucial for an effective reward scheme. Gamblers become addicted to slot machines due to the unpredictable nature of the pay-offs [see Montague & Berns, 2002]. It is the element of uncertainty that has people constantly checking to see whether an email has arrived in their Inbox or whether someone has commented on their Facebook status.Other people (i.e. social elements) probably provide our brains with the greatest rewards. Humans are social creatures by nature. Adding other people into your experience is a no-brainer as evidenced by the rise of social media in the form of Facebook, Twitter, etc. According to Gavin Marshall, Head of Innovation for Mxit, South Africa’s largest social network, MXit users’ rewards are mostly social in nature.
  • Facebook is a great example of an experience/platform that hi-jacks our brains
  • RewardsEffective rewards cost designers relatively little but are highly valued by users. Less effective rewards cost designers more for the same level of user valuation as a more effective reward. Reward types are listed below in order of decreasing effectiveness [CNET, 2010]:Status is probably the most effective reward. It costs designers next to nothing and is highly valued by users as it taps into our social natures. Zicherman [2010] suggests that status has replaced material rewards such as cash, and that the less status rewards a game doles out, the more material rewards it needs to hand out to keep users engaged.Access to restricted features, options and areas e.g. VIP room in a nightclub or member-only analytics on a website.Power is an effective incentive for some e.g. community moderators that can ban users, remove status or shift points around; voting to change contents of front page of a website; etc.Stuff, both material (e.g. cash prizes) and virtual (e.g. game weapons or FarmVille seeds). Material stuff is costly to provide, whereas virtual goods are often free.According to Day, “you can sculpt [a] psychological reward-scape to some degree, but ultimately the best rewards are the ones in the minds of your players”.
  • Examples of mechanics:Facebook includes rapid and uncertain feedbackFoursquare includes badges for achievementTwitter implicitly confers status and achievement by follower numbersLinked In includes a progress bar showing how close a user’s profile is to completion in terms of personal info
  • FlowThe Holy Grail for most game experiences is the creation of a state of “flow” in its users. ‘Flow’ describes the experience of full submersion in a process, which creates a sense of energized focus and 100% engagement [Csíkszentmihályi, 1991]. Being in a state of flow is often referred to as being “in the zone”, “on the ball”, “in the moment” or “in the groove”. It is the moments while performing a task where we feel totally capable and rewarded for the effort we are putting in. A state of flow can often be a reward in itself as humans find the state incredibly fulfilling and motivating. Flow is induced when performing tasks that are challenging but within our capabilities to complete. If a challenge is beyond our skill it becomes frustrating. If a challenge is too easy, it becomes boring. Inducing a state of flow is an important aspect of a successful game-like experience.
  • Gamer typesAs touched on in the “game dynamics” section, people behave in different ways. Different people are motivated in different ways. To account for this, Zicherman [2010] suggests thinking through different usage scenarios and designing specific streams into the game structure. According to Bartle [1997], there are four main player types, each of which needs to be catered for when designing a game experience. Achievers (10% of users) focus on the big rewards with the most recognition and status (e.g. an illustrious title or large number of contributions). Socializers (80% of users) make up the undergrowth of the community. They support and nourish the other player types with their recognition and adoration. Socializers are non-confrontational, are looking to engage and will easily reciprocate.Explorers (9% of users) take pride in mapping a system in terms of its features and decision spaces. They thrive on the social credit that they receive for their discoveries. Day suggests building achievements into your game-space that reward users for exploring the platform in novel ways, for example by using an unpopular feature.Killers make up 1% of the community. They are similar to Achievers in that they go for the big rewards, but with a subtle difference. When they win, someone else has to lose publicly so that the community can recognise their actions (e.g. forum trolls and comment killers). Killers are highly active and engaged and can be dealt with by harnessing their energy by putting them onto rails (step-wise progressions that are built into the system) that shape their behaviour by following a path intended by the designer.Jane McGonigal [2008] points out that most communities follow a power law curve in terms of engagement (similar to the 80-20 rule). A few users contribute most of the content while the majority are relatively passive. This syncs up with what we know about Bartle’s Player Types, where the vast amount of Socializers support and nourish the highly active users in the form of Achievers, Explorers and Killers. McGonigal [2008] goes on to point out that emotional goals differ between players, using Lazzaro’s framework to make the distinction between four main emotional categories: Fiero (an Italian word that describes the rush of emotion that one feels right after the moment of success), Curiosity, Amusement and Relaxation. Figure 6 has a detailed breakdown of the various emotions that fall into each category.
  • While the notion of gamification might seem appealing by way of its simplicity, in practice there are many potential pitfalls.
  • Possibly the most common oversight is that game mechanics are often implemented without carefulconsideration of their relevance or appropriateness [Kim, 2010]. Ewing [2010] describes how individualdifferences in life stage, playing style (see Bartle’s Player Types) and attitude toward risk make itdifficult to gamify a task in a way that rewards and motivates a diverse (and thus representative)community. A particular gamified task might engage and reward certain types of people and playingstyles, whilst simultaneously discouraging others. Take, for example, the stable, well-documenteddifferences between men and women. Women prefer less risky, non-competitive tasks and they are alsomore attuned to the social impact of their actions. As such, different game aspects are likely to appeal toeach sex [Deterding, 2010]. Strategic Synergy [2010a] advocates diversity as key to the success of gamemechanics, citing Blizzard’s World of Warcraft as an example of the successful implementation ofmultiple motivations to cater to all needs and personality types. An ideal design should cater to a widerange of personalities, interests and moods. Clearly, insight into the target audience, coupled withcareful and informed design are essential.
  • Misinformed parties are also prone to falling into the trap of mistaking games for mindless fun andintroducing superficial measures that do little to achieve the desired result. As Deterding [2010] pointsout, it takes more than simply throwing in elements from games to make something enjoyable for theuser i.e. “badgification” or “pointsification” [Gigaom, 2010]. Danny Day of QCF Design says that “as agame designer, I know that if I simply give my players a constant stream of rewards with no substanceor struggle, they’ll quickly tire of their ‘earnings’. It might work for a while”, he argues, “if all you wantto do is create noise about something… but it will only rarely create actual creative engagement inplayers”. It takes good design to inspire true enjoyment, and ultimately, engagement. Good design involvesbuilding in instrinsic motivators like experiences of competence, self-efficacy and mastery rather thanrelying on extrinsic rewards. Rewards themselves are not equivalent to achievement.
  • Those looking to implement game mechanics to enhance participation should also be cognisant ofcompetition when it comes to ‘participation bandwidth’, a term coined by Jane McGonigal in 2008 todescribe the capacity to contribute to participatory networks. McGonigal is of the opinion thatparticipation bandwidth is a finite resource, as there are only so many potential contributors with alimited amount of time and energy to devote to participation. What this means for businesses trying togamify tasks is competition from other participatory endeavours that draw users in. In order to winparticipation bandwidth, your task will need to be interesting and engaging enough to draw people awayfrom something else [McGonigal, 2008].
  • When trying to use game mechanics to influence behaviour, there are limits to how much one canrealistically control, giving way to the possibility of undesirable emergent behaviours. An example is that of BMW’s location-based game prototype intended to encourage fuel-efficientdriving by challenging drivers to beat fuel efficiency records set by others driving the same route. Whilethe game achieved its purpose of lowering the fuel consumption of test drivers, undesirable drivingbehaviours like skipping red lights emerged, as drivers realised that stopping and then accelerating againused more fuel [Deterding, 2010].Unintended behaviour can also surface when participants try to manipulate the system to maximise thepayoff for themselves – a phenomenon referred to as ‘gaming the system’ [Deterding, 2010]. StrategicSynergy [2010b] recommends building in a mechanism for continual feedback (through analytics, forinstance) to enable the designer to evolve the game mechanics in such instances.
  • It can be argued that certain tasks are better left untouched by game mechanics. One of the reasons forthis is that excessive competition can undermine the core purpose of the task or community [Face,2010]. Sometimes the addition of explicit rules to existing behaviours can interfere with implicit socialnorms and meanings already in place. An example of this is Akoha, an online service that assignsrewards for acts of kindness in the real world. Some argue that this system detracts from what makessomething altruistic in the first place [Deterding, 2010]. Putting a value on something intangible,something considered to be ‘priceless’, creates a kind of dissonance that is the result of blending a socialexchange with a market exchange [Strategic Synergy, 2011b].
  • Gamification in some form has been around for a long time, but until now we simply have not labelled it as such. Take, for example, what could be called the gamification of commerce through credit card rewards like air miles or retailer discounts; or gamification for the purpose of training, sometimes referred to as ‘serious games’. Employers have for years been using game-like simulators as training instruments, as seen with the airplane simulators used to train pilots 
  • Farmville, an online social networking game in which one manages a virtual farm, is an obvious application of gamification. You can earn ribbons for having lots of friends, being a good neighbour, etc. Farmville looks like a game, feels like a game…. It is a game.
  • Foursquare is a more subtle application of game mechanics. Foursquare is a location-based social networking site that rewards users for reporting their location via GPS. The user who checks in most frequently to a given location is awarded the status of mayor of that location. This looks a little like a game, but isn’t actually a game in itself. It’s more like a gamification layer imposed on top of an existing behaviour
  • An even more subtle example is that of Klout, a web service that measures one’s online influence by pulling data from your Twitter profile, Facebook etc. You are given a Klout score, which can then be compared to that of your peers. Klout goes beyond measuring and also tries to influence, for instance, by offering perks for increasing your Klout. Klout is by no means a game, but there are game mechanics at play.
  • Having review the gamification literature, we realised that there is not much out there in the way of hard data either supporting or refuting the efficacy of gamification. So we decided to conduct an experiment to test this for ourselves.
  • We wanted to test whether gamifying an online experience affects user behaviour in terms ofengagement and the nature of the contributions made. To do this we ran an experiment over the courseof 2-3 weeks in partnership with the online crowdsourcing platform, hypothesised that the addition of gamification elements would create higher engagement levelsamongst participants in terms of:• An increased number of contributions per user and overall• Longer and higher quality contributions (i.e. posts and comments)• More discussion around the topics• More activity for the lifetime of the discussionWe decided to build our experiment around the overall question of “What makes the perfect T-shirt?”.This question was chosen in order to tap into an existing T-shirt community run by the Evly team We posed this question to two independent groups, a control group (no gamificationelements) and an experimental group (with gamification elements). Springleap is a community-driven T-shirt design companythat uses crowdsourcing to source winning T-shirt designs.
  • We recruited participants by mailing out invitations to10,000 members of the Springleap community (5,000 forthe control group and a further 5,000 for the experimentalgroups) using the official Springleap marketing account. Inaddition, we mailed prominent T-shirt bloggers, created twoFacebook adverts (one for each group, combined they received1.15 million impressions but only 432 click-throughs), andmentioned the experiment daily via the official Springleap and Evly Twitter and Facebook accounts. Wedecided to offer a small prize of three Springleap T-shirts to the overall winner of each of our twogroups. We did not want to make the prize too large for fear of biasing the results. We wanted people tocontinue engaging with the experiment for intrinsic reasons rather than an extrinsic reward in the formof a large material prize.
  • We set up two independent discussion groups that were invisible to each other. For the most part, thetwo groups were nearly identical i.e they had similar page layouts and graphics (see Appendix 2 for anexample screenshot). However, our control group was only given the ability to answer questions andcomment on other’s answers. Our experimental group was exposed to several gamification mechanics,including:1. A virtual currency (they could accrue “points” by others voting on their answers)2. Parallel goals (sub-questions were posed in parallel to the overall question – see below)3. Badges (for answering each sub-question and for receiving the most votes for a sub-question)4. A progress bar indicating the progress of the overall discussion5. An appointment dynamic (participants had to answer each sub-question within the 3 day limit,although this was only enforced for sub-questions 3 and 4)Our hypothesis was that the experimental group would demonstrate higher user engagement and activityas a result of the inclusion of these game mechanics.
  • The macro question of “What makes the perfect T-shirt?” was split up into four sub-questions relating to specific characteristics of T-shirt design, including: Sub-question 1: Cultural references vs. originality Sub-question 2: Shirt cut e.g. trendy vs. comfort? Sub-question 3: Imagery e.g. simple vs. complex, words vs. graphics? Sub-question 4: Design placement e.g. side, front back, use of space/negative space, etc. We described each question in more detail and provided example images to frame the discussion (see Appendix 2 for the example images we used for each sub-question). We posted a new sub-question every three days. The experimental group was told to expect this structure. However, from the control group’s perspective, they were simply receiving new questions at intermittent intervals without it being clear that there was an overall structure in place. The timeline of the experiment was as follows: Introduction & ‘on-boarding’ (3 days) Sub-question 1 (3 days) Sub-question 2 (3 days) Sub-question 3 (3 days) Sub-question 4 (3 days) We used the first three days as an initial “on-boarding” period in which participants were able to discuss the macro question. In hindsight, this was probably a mistake as the largest flurry of activity over the life time of the two groups occurred in this period. We should have instead launched straight into the sub-questions at this stage to lock participants into the process.
  • To measure engagement, we looked at metrics such as the average number of posts per user, averagepost length per user, number of return visits per user, etc.Unfortunately, despite our extensive recruitment efforts, our final sample sizes were below expectation.However, we still found a consistent trend between the two groups; with higher scores on most of ourengagement metrics being observed for the gamified experimental group. This lendssome support to our initial hypothesis that gamification improves user engagement in onlinecommunities.It was not possible to pull out any noticeable differences between the content of thediscussions within each group. The ephemeral concept of “design” was the most mentioned in each asevidenced by the word clouds above.
  • Specifically, we found that the gamified experimental group…1. ……had a higher average number of posts per participant (2.3 vs. 1.5)
  • 2. …had more members who contributed responses (83% vs. 68% of members)
  • 3. …were more likely to start discussions, as a greater proportion of posts were in response to othermembers’ answers rather than directly to our structured questions (37% vs. 3% of posts werecomments in response to other members’ answers)All in all, we found these results to be encouraging. Due to the small base sizes, we are limited in terms of how the conclusions we can draw from this experiment, but it does lend some support to our hypothesis that gamification can indeed enhance engagement.
  • The challenges of gamification within market researchBeyond the documented pitfalls of gamification in general, gamification within a research context poses some unique challenges. Face Group’s D’Orazio cautions that “In my experience game mechanics have massive potential in the research industry but low-grade gamification is only going to distort social interaction and skew research outputs”. Crucially, one ought to consider if and how gamification might interfere with the objectives of the research and the integrity of the data collected. After all, gamification is about influencing behaviour and, as researchers, our intention is usually to minimise influence on behaviour. By incentivising with badges and points, we risk biasing results [Face, 2010]. Adding to this, Ewing [2010] points out that in research, we try to observe people in their natural state expressing their authentic selves – and this can be contrary to some game environments where players express themselves through an avatar or virtual self (although it’s debatable which represents the true self). Ewing [2010] describes how gamification might encourage unsolicited responses in surveys. For instance, simple stimulus-response game mechanics might reward the routinised patterns of responses that are undesirable in panels. When asked by the authors to comment on gamification in online communities, Ewing responded that “particularly for research purposes… things like hierarchies and post counts can be totally counter-productive and fix things in stone which don’t need fixing”, observing also that “hierarchy and play evolve naturally in successful communities without needing codifying”. According to Ewing [2010], mobile is the most promising platform for gamifying tasks, but success in the mobile environment demands that activities are simple and modular, and can be completed quickly. In their current state, research surveys and tasks do not conform to these requirements. A fundamental shift will be required if we are to approximate the conditions necessary for success in the mobile environment. As Day puts it, “In order to truly turn something into a game, it often needs to change so much in order to facilitate player agency that few people are willing to begin the process.”
  • In this paper, we have introduced the reader to the concept of “gamification”. We have looked at its pros and cons and we have provided examples. We have also spoken to several leading industry figures about its implications to get their views on this emerging trend. In addition, we conducted our own experiment to tease out the effects of gamifying an online experience, the results of which were encouraging, although much work still needs to be done before we can truly hail the concept as the Holy Grail of engagement and behaviour change.  Gamification is an interesting trend that appears to be peaking in terms of the hype cycle. At the moment, people and businesses are jostling to jump aboard the bandwagon. At its heart, there appears to be a solid idea, but, as with any bubble, a crash is likely to come before the area stabilises its position in science and the business world. Like preceding buzz-terms such as behavioural economics and crowdsourcing, gamification seems to have something to offer. Now if we could only cut through the hype and get on with it, it will be very exciting to see where it leads us.
  • EPILOGUE: Acknowledgements & References AcknowledgementsA big thank you to the folks at for their tireless efforts in helping to set up and run our experiment, especially:Maike Schulze Amy AbrahamsMehulSanghamEranEyal Eric Edelstein Also, a big thank you to the people who agreed to be interviewed by us, including: Gavin Marshall Danny Day Tom Ewing Finally, thank you to the following for your great feedback and advice on earlier drafts of this paper: Butch Rice Lesley van der Walt Philip Collier
  • Transcript

    • 1.
    • 2. LEVEL 1
      What it’s not
    • 3. LEVEL 1: What it’s not
      Video games
    • 4. LEVEL 2
      What it is
    • 5. LEVEL 1: What is it?
      “The integration of the mechanics that make games fun and absorbing into non-game platforms and experiences in order to improve engagement and participation”
      ~ The Authors
    • 6. LEVEL 1: What is it?
      Example mechanics
      Appointment dynamic
      Community collaboration
    • 7. LEVEL 1: What is it?
      Haven’t we seen this all before?
      Behavioural theories
      Control theory
      Behaviour change
      Behavioural economics
    • 8. LEVEL 1: What is it?
      What’s in a name?
      Gaming dynamics
      Game mechanics
      Serious games
      Game theory
      Game design
    • 9. LEVEL 1: What is it?
      Hijacking the brain, or, “How does it work?”
      Experience systems
      Rapid, frequent feedback
      Rewards for effort
      Short- and long-term goals
      Other people
    • 10. LEVEL 1: What is it?
      “Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD)”
    • 11. Status
      LEVEL 1: What is it?
      Types of rewards/incentives
    • 12. LEVEL 1: What is it?
      Incentives and rewards make the world go round
    • 13. LEVEL 1: What is it?
    • 14. LEVEL 1: What is it?
      User/gamer types
      Explorers (9%)
      Killers (1%)
      Socializers (80%)
      Achievers (10%)
    • 15. BOSS BATTLE!
    • 16. It’s difficult to engage everyone
    • 17. Rewards are not equivalent to achievement
    • 18. Limited participation bandwidth
    • 19. Unintended consequences /
      Gaming the system
    • 20. Undermining intrinsic values and…
      …interfering with social norms
      You defeated the Pitfall Boss!
    • 22. BONUS LEVEL
    • 23. BONUS LEVEL
    • 24. BONUS LEVEL
    • 25. BONUS LEVEL
    • 26. LEVEL 3
    • 27. LEVEL 3
    • 28. LEVEL 3
    • 29. Game mechanics included:
      1. A virtual currency
      2. Parallel goals
      3. Badges
      4. Progress bar
      5. Appointment dynamic
      LEVEL 3
    • 30. Imagery e.g. simple vs. complex, words vs. graphics?
      Cultural references vs. originality
      Shirt cut e.g. trendy vs. comfort?
      Design placement e.g. side, front back, use of space/negative space, etc.
      LEVEL 3
    • 31. Control
      LEVEL 3
      Results: Discussion content
    • 32. Number of posts
      LEVEL 3
      Results: Number of posts
    • 33. Control
      LEVEL 3
      Results: User participation
    • 34. Control
      LEVEL 3
      Results: Community interaction
      Interference with data integrity
      Unsolicited responses
      Surveys too complex for mobile execution
      Gamification appears to work
      Its more subtle that just making something look like a video game, and…
      …it’s something we’ve always done to some degree
      Now we’ve just articulated it, giving us a powerful tool
    • 37. CONGRATS!!!
      You defeated the Final Boss