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3 WAYS TO GUARANTEE YOUR GAMIFICATION PROJECT WILL FAIL
By Monica Cornetti
Starting a gamification project without clear
objectives and a prepared plan of action is like
going on an adventure with no idea where you're
going and how you’ll get there. And yet, many
companies dive into a gamification project
because they believe it is a new, cool tool that will
miraculously turn around a failing process or
project.
I have found that there are three elements that
will almost certainly guarantee the failure of your
project if they are not addressed clearly and
impartially from the very beginning of your design
process:
Failing to answer, “Why are we
playing?”
Instead of asking, “How can we leverage
gamification in our organization?” begin with
clearly defined objectives, then ask if gamification
is a suitable avenue to achieve those objectives.
Many people confuse goals and objectives. A goal
is a general guideline that explains what you want
to achieve. Such as, “We want to increase our
sales in each division this year, thus increasing our
overall percentage of market share.”
Objectives, on the other hand, typically define
strategies or implementation steps to attain the
identified goals. Unlike goals, objectives are
specific, measurable, and have a defined
completion date. They are more specific and
outline the “who, what, when, where, and how”
of reaching the goal.
Objectives should be quantifiable; for example,
increase sales by 20% in the upcoming year. Note,
I prefer to see an actual number here. It is
important for those involved in achieving the
objective to have a clear understanding of what is
required to achieve that percentage. For example,
20% could mean 2 or it could mean 200. The
actual number makes a big difference for strategy,
action steps, and implementation.
However, many objectives are more difficult to
express in numerical terms, such as setting a goal
of improving morale in your contact center
representatives. You must find some way to
measure ‘morale’ in order to determine if you
have moved closer to or further away from your
goal. There may be any number of behaviors you
could measure, such as, absences, turnover, and
complaints to managers, or missed project
deadlines.
To set your objectives and to determine if
gamification is the best path to success, answer
such questions as, “Why do we want to improve
morale? What will improved morale get us that
we don’t have now?” These questions will help
THE GAMIFICATION REPORT
www.TheGamificationReport.blog.com
you to pinpoint the correct behaviors needed
and help you set your objectives. Be crystal clear
about your objectives when starting your project.
The more specific your project objectives are, the
greater your chances are of achieving them.
Failing to identify, “Who is the game
for?”
Why do some people engage in a gamified
process, while others disengage in frustration?
Why do some game elements appeal to some
people, but have no effect on others?
The problem is based in our personal motivation
profile that is core to who we are, our
personalities, and how we make decisions. We
have trouble understanding the perspective of
those whose profile is significantly different from
ours. And this is where the breakdown often
happens between game designer and player.
Dr. Reiss, of The Reiss Profile, identifies this
problem as “self-hugging.” He says, not only do
we believe everyone should be like us, but that
they are like us.
In other words, if you, as the gamification
designer, are highly motivated by Social Contact,
and a player is low motivated in the same area,
you won’t understand why the player doesn’t
want to share their knowledge and experiences
with team members.
You’ll view the player as obstinate and
cantankerous, when all they really are is low
motivated by Social Contact. The player doesn’t
want to play games or interact with other people.
They’d much rather work on their own.
In gamification design, it is important to realize
that you, as a developer, have different
motivations for playing than most of the people
you encounter. Don’t assume your players want
things your way. Talk with potential players to find
out what really makes them tick.
But remember, gamification isn’t only for a
specific group of employees. We are all motivated
by recognition, reward, and friendly competition–
some of us more so than others.
Attempting to fix a broken product or
service with gamification.
A common misuse of gamification is attempting to
fix something that is already broken. It’s like the
time my youngest son baked a cake for us. The
icing looked deliciously creamy and sweet. He had
even added some colorful sprinkles and swirly
designs. We thought, “Yum, this is going to be
good!” But on the first bite we were puzzled,
because although the icing tasted as good as it
looked, it was apparent that something was
amuck with the cake. With a second bite, this fear
was confirmed.
We inquired as nicely as we could, “The icing is
great, but what’s wrong with the cake?”
He confessed that he misread the recipe and put
in 3 tablespoons instead of 3 teaspoons of baking
powder, which caused the caked to be flat and
bitter.
He was hoping the sweetness of the icing would
compensate for the bitterness of the cake.
Instead, it left me wondering, “Why would you
take the time and energy to put this delicious icing
on such a terrible cake?”
SELF-HUGGING
NOT only do we believe everyone should be
like us, but that they are like us.
The same is true for your gamification design. If
done right, it’s colorful, fun, and inviting. It will
draw in your users, and they’ll want to try it to see
if it is as good as it looks. When they find out that
your product quality doesn’t match your
marketing language, or that your customer
service department should really be called the
Customer Torture Department, they will wonder
why you bothered gamifying the process. It will
appear that you were simply trying to disguise a
broken system.
You have to solve the problem of a bad product or
bad service before you can truly leverage the
power of gamification.
One final note, even if you manage to avoid these
three pitfalls, you are not guaranteed a successful
gamification project. It’s critical to test and tweak
your design. You may think a certain game
mechanic will be great, only to discover in your
play-testing that it actually hinders the learning or
engagement experience. Conversely, you may
discover you need to add a game mechanic that
you hadn’t considered after you watch people
interact with your design.
Chances are, you will not get your design perfect
on your first attempt—you’ll want to test and
iterate early and frequently—but this is all part of
the successful gamification design process. Good
luck and…
Game On!
A gamification keynote speaker and curriculum designer, Monica Cornetti is rated as the #1 Gamification
Guru in the World by UK-Based Leaderboarded. She is the author of the book Totally Awesome Training
Activity Guide: Put Gamification to Work for You. Monica’s niche is gamification used within the
corporate environment. Connect with Monica (@monicacornetti) www.monicacornetti.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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3 Ways to Guarantee Your Gamification Project WILL Fail

  • 1. 3 WAYS TO GUARANTEE YOUR GAMIFICATION PROJECT WILL FAIL By Monica Cornetti Starting a gamification project without clear objectives and a prepared plan of action is like going on an adventure with no idea where you're going and how you’ll get there. And yet, many companies dive into a gamification project because they believe it is a new, cool tool that will miraculously turn around a failing process or project. I have found that there are three elements that will almost certainly guarantee the failure of your project if they are not addressed clearly and impartially from the very beginning of your design process: Failing to answer, “Why are we playing?” Instead of asking, “How can we leverage gamification in our organization?” begin with clearly defined objectives, then ask if gamification is a suitable avenue to achieve those objectives. Many people confuse goals and objectives. A goal is a general guideline that explains what you want to achieve. Such as, “We want to increase our sales in each division this year, thus increasing our overall percentage of market share.” Objectives, on the other hand, typically define strategies or implementation steps to attain the identified goals. Unlike goals, objectives are specific, measurable, and have a defined completion date. They are more specific and outline the “who, what, when, where, and how” of reaching the goal. Objectives should be quantifiable; for example, increase sales by 20% in the upcoming year. Note, I prefer to see an actual number here. It is important for those involved in achieving the objective to have a clear understanding of what is required to achieve that percentage. For example, 20% could mean 2 or it could mean 200. The actual number makes a big difference for strategy, action steps, and implementation. However, many objectives are more difficult to express in numerical terms, such as setting a goal of improving morale in your contact center representatives. You must find some way to measure ‘morale’ in order to determine if you have moved closer to or further away from your goal. There may be any number of behaviors you could measure, such as, absences, turnover, and complaints to managers, or missed project deadlines. To set your objectives and to determine if gamification is the best path to success, answer such questions as, “Why do we want to improve morale? What will improved morale get us that we don’t have now?” These questions will help THE GAMIFICATION REPORT www.TheGamificationReport.blog.com
  • 2. you to pinpoint the correct behaviors needed and help you set your objectives. Be crystal clear about your objectives when starting your project. The more specific your project objectives are, the greater your chances are of achieving them. Failing to identify, “Who is the game for?” Why do some people engage in a gamified process, while others disengage in frustration? Why do some game elements appeal to some people, but have no effect on others? The problem is based in our personal motivation profile that is core to who we are, our personalities, and how we make decisions. We have trouble understanding the perspective of those whose profile is significantly different from ours. And this is where the breakdown often happens between game designer and player. Dr. Reiss, of The Reiss Profile, identifies this problem as “self-hugging.” He says, not only do we believe everyone should be like us, but that they are like us. In other words, if you, as the gamification designer, are highly motivated by Social Contact, and a player is low motivated in the same area, you won’t understand why the player doesn’t want to share their knowledge and experiences with team members. You’ll view the player as obstinate and cantankerous, when all they really are is low motivated by Social Contact. The player doesn’t want to play games or interact with other people. They’d much rather work on their own. In gamification design, it is important to realize that you, as a developer, have different motivations for playing than most of the people you encounter. Don’t assume your players want things your way. Talk with potential players to find out what really makes them tick. But remember, gamification isn’t only for a specific group of employees. We are all motivated by recognition, reward, and friendly competition– some of us more so than others. Attempting to fix a broken product or service with gamification. A common misuse of gamification is attempting to fix something that is already broken. It’s like the time my youngest son baked a cake for us. The icing looked deliciously creamy and sweet. He had even added some colorful sprinkles and swirly designs. We thought, “Yum, this is going to be good!” But on the first bite we were puzzled, because although the icing tasted as good as it looked, it was apparent that something was amuck with the cake. With a second bite, this fear was confirmed. We inquired as nicely as we could, “The icing is great, but what’s wrong with the cake?” He confessed that he misread the recipe and put in 3 tablespoons instead of 3 teaspoons of baking powder, which caused the caked to be flat and bitter. He was hoping the sweetness of the icing would compensate for the bitterness of the cake. Instead, it left me wondering, “Why would you take the time and energy to put this delicious icing on such a terrible cake?” SELF-HUGGING NOT only do we believe everyone should be like us, but that they are like us.
  • 3. The same is true for your gamification design. If done right, it’s colorful, fun, and inviting. It will draw in your users, and they’ll want to try it to see if it is as good as it looks. When they find out that your product quality doesn’t match your marketing language, or that your customer service department should really be called the Customer Torture Department, they will wonder why you bothered gamifying the process. It will appear that you were simply trying to disguise a broken system. You have to solve the problem of a bad product or bad service before you can truly leverage the power of gamification. One final note, even if you manage to avoid these three pitfalls, you are not guaranteed a successful gamification project. It’s critical to test and tweak your design. You may think a certain game mechanic will be great, only to discover in your play-testing that it actually hinders the learning or engagement experience. Conversely, you may discover you need to add a game mechanic that you hadn’t considered after you watch people interact with your design. Chances are, you will not get your design perfect on your first attempt—you’ll want to test and iterate early and frequently—but this is all part of the successful gamification design process. Good luck and… Game On! A gamification keynote speaker and curriculum designer, Monica Cornetti is rated as the #1 Gamification Guru in the World by UK-Based Leaderboarded. She is the author of the book Totally Awesome Training Activity Guide: Put Gamification to Work for You. Monica’s niche is gamification used within the corporate environment. Connect with Monica (@monicacornetti) www.monicacornetti.com ABOUT THE AUTHOR: