Considering their long-standing ability to engage and motivate people, it is no wonder leading organizations are looking to games for increasing employee engagement, aligning employees with company goals, driving adoption of desirable behaviors and increasing the efficacy of corporate training programs.
Gamification has become a bit of a buzzword in the past few years and is used interchangeably with different meanings and derived perceptions, I’d like, in this piece, to lay the basics of what enterprise gamification really is and what it’s actually good for.
What Is Gamification?
As Karl Kapp, professor of Instructional Technology at Bloomsburg University, puts it, “Gamification is using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems”. Following this definition, the idea behind gamification in the workplace is not playing games at work but taking useful elements from games to get desired results from your clients and employees.
How Does Gamification work?
Understanding what keeps us engaged in games is key for implementing game mechanics with your workforce. Gamification guru Yu-Kai Chu suggests 8 core drives leading human decisions and activities which games commonly tap into. These include the desires for accomplishment (e.g. winning coins or passing levels), social influence (e.g. brag buttons or foursquare badges), an epic sense of meaning (e.g. a compelling game narrative) and loss avoidance (i.e. the fear of losing your achieved game status).
By understanding these drives and using the relevant game mechanics to channel them, one can take mundane tasks, such as answering calls in a service center or learning about a new product line, and make them much more interesting, yielding better business results via a more engaged workforce.
Another important aspect of gamification is understanding your “player’s” personas and building the game to cater for their personality, focusing on the drives that appeal to them. Leading gamification consultant Andrzej Marczewski describes 6 player personas, each one with a different set of motivations.
Players – Motivated mainly by rewards and the game itself and less by the goals behind it. They will try to pass levels and get more and more points.
Achievers – Want to be masters and leaders and are inspired by challenges as a means of self-improvement.
Socializers – They are in it for their friends. Their motivation in the game is to socialize and interact to feel part of a community.
Philanthropists – Their motivation is an altruistic sense of purpose. Their goal in the game is to be better to the company and their peers and they don’t expect any reward.
Free Spirits – Their source of motivation is the potential of being self-sufficient and the ability to explore and create.
Disruptors – These will look for ways of breaking the status quo and gaming the system. Their motivation is stirring things up and detracting other users