Candy Crush, monopoly, chess, Mario Kart, FIFA, giant Jenga… games are a part of our lives from our youngest age. We learn to play games like peek-a-boo before we can even speak to make-believe games to more structured rule-based games like organized sports and board games. As adults, we play games like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and of course video games. From candy crush to Call of Duty – we as a species love playing games with our friends and against ourselves (or a computer). Gamify is a book about just that how do we turn activities like working out or personal finance into a state that we will actually enjoy doing these – not always fun activities.
Gamification is a term that is about applying game-like characteristics to different processes, activities, and software that we interact with at work, in school, or in our daily lives. The idea being we will motivate ourselves to actually do these not so fun activities and actively want to do them.
At a conceptual level, it is pretty straightforward let’s just make things more fun and entertaining whether it is creating levels around these activities. Gamify argues that simplicity is not quite what gamification is about and not how it will be applied. No matter how much gamification is applied to an Excel spreadsheet to conduct financial analysis – it probably is still going to be ineffective for the amount of time and energy needed to gamify this process.
First understanding what things are able to be turned into games and then what the true outcomes will be. Gamification should be about motivating people versus entertainment per se. It is unlikely doing expense reports on time is going to become the next big Farmville. Rightfully so it shouldn’t be. Entertainment is most likely not the best use of gamification.
So where is gamification helpful? Primarily in motivating you to do activities, you find difficult. Nike+ is an example of gamifying working out to create a points system useful across all forms of physical activity. There is a rewards system in NikeFuel and the ability to share with your friends and keep up to date with your progress. This type of gamification is motivating you to keep exercising.
Another great example is Duolingo’s use of gamification to help you learn a language. It chunks down the daunting task of language learning into small bite-size pieces with a points system and health system for getting short quizzes right. You have to beat the current level before you can level up to the next. You also have to not make too many mistakes or you’ll lose lives and have to wait a period of time to move on to the next lesson.
There are many areas to consider using gamification and focusing on motivating people is a way to do so. I’m in sales and the use of quarterly competitions and incentives outside of your traditional competition are ways we motivate the sales force. People enjoy recognition and by putting that recognition around the right activities we promote the use of best practices that help the sales team grow and be more successful.
Gamify is a great read for those trying to motivate their kids, themselves, or want to apply the principles to a business challenge they face.