'Ification' of Games: Fiction, Fad, or Fact?
The year was 2011 and when scientists were trying to solve the puzzle - find the structure of an enzyme that helps AIDS-like viruses reproduce, for decades - in walked a few online gamers and lo! Behold! In three short weeks, they achieved what eluded scientists for decades. In essence, gamers found the required structure through their gaming skills. This is the most acclaimed example to exemplify the virtues of Gamification.
It was in 2004 that 'ification' was suffixed to 'game' and Gamification has continued to gain currency ever since. It is fundamentally, the art and science of applying mechanics of games to non-game situations, to elicit certain desired behaviors from users. It is used in businesses to make the scenarios more fun, to increase engagement.
Companies are using Gamification to change user behavior, solve real-world problems, and extend brands. It is also being promoted as a tool to keep the employees engaged so that their skills can be enhanced. The ultimate desire is to have these skills drive innovation.
With the emanations and evolution of gesture control technologies, along with augmented reality, Gamification is predicted to become an everyday thing in the years to come.
Even now, whether or not we notice it, Gamification is becoming ubiquitous. Most of us have profiles on social media channels such as Yammer, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. On these sites, we are encouraged to complete our profile details; the progress is shared as a bar on our profile page. The profile bar is a virtual representation of how complete your profile is, to not only inform us about our profile, but also motivate us to complete the profile; in essence, induce the desired behavior.
Traditional 'push' communication impact has been dwindling in terms of motivating the customer to take note and act. With Gamification, engagement is increased, through the elements and excitement of games, which helps in carrying the organization's message to the customer.
The engagement that is produced with Gamification is not only effective, but also sustainable because gaming is addictive. As customers become players, putting their energy and time into achieving goals, such as winning reward points, they are more likely to stay longer, which in-turn increases the possibility of bringing in more engagement with the brand.
Some might be fighting the doubt that such contests and promotions have been a part and parcel of businesses since the time they came into existence - so why is there the need for Gamification? Is it not just a fancy term to existing practices? The answer to this is, no. It is not an old practice in the cloak of a new term. It is actually an organic next-step or evolution. While promotion tries to entice audience through bait to trigger a desired activity, for instance, "Open an account, and get a chance to win an iPhone", the goal of Gamification on the other hand, is to entrench the products and services in the lifestyle of consumers.
Thus, Gamification, as a tool of customer engagement, has transcended the fiction and fad stage a long time ago and is now a fact of life; as it is the shared purpose on the part of businesses and customers. This shared purpose is the driving force that strengthens this trend - and as long as the purpose of remaining shared exists, this crescendo will continue.