Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gamification of the Online World

The trend of neologism – creating new words – is on a rise in the world of technology. We need new words to interpret new ideas.  We had the Internet, Websites, Blogs, Web 2.0, Social Media, Tweet and now Gamification.
‘Gamification’ is the new buzz word and it’s coming soon to your gym, your job, your government and even your doctor. In fact it has already arrived in the world of financial services, and is used by marketers to engage customers online.
As defined on Wikipedia – “Gamification is the use of game play mechanics for non-game consumer technology applications (also known as “funware”), particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications”
The corporate world is realizing that “gamification” is an effective way to generate business using the same mechanics that keeps gamers glued to their television/laptops.

Since the inception of videogames, people have questioned why gamers spend hours to reach to that final stage of the game, working towards intangible rewards. The study of human behavior shows that incentives offered for completing a task, tend to be addictive.

An outright example for this is location based website – Foursquare. The mobile app encourages people to share their location wherever they are. The users try to check in to locations several times to receive one of the several badges offered by the site.

The entire experience of achieving the “Mayor” status of a particular location gives users immense pleasure. The commercial side of this is that many retailers give their customers discounts/freebies upon achieving “Mayor” badge (or any other badge prescribed by the retailer). E.g. Dominos pizza in UK offers exclusive discount to anybody who checks into their outlet frequently and becomes the Mayor of that outlet. transformed the financial services into a gaming experience - Want to go to Bali for your next vacation? Select that option from drop down list of rewards on the website, and as you save your deposits toward achieving the desire target, a gauge fills, showing you how close you are to your next vacation. Mint is making managing one's money more fun with a unique approach.

A regional example is RAK Bank in UAE, who has recently launched games on their website to engage customers with the brand and indirectly inform them about their products. 

However, the Gamification is still in its infancy stage. The Gamification of services/products should not be just restricted to points like programs. The users may reject Gamification as any other loyalty program.
Points/badges are part of a game rewarded to customers for completing a task. Once this phenomenon is mature, a game itself must be able to give the player a choice to take a decision that will result into a reward. E.g. choosing a XM8 Lightweight Assault Rifle v/s AK 47 will help the player to win a game resulting in a reward.

If the "gamified" businesses, programs and products are implemented they will mutually benefit the company and the consumer. 
The above post was published on ICT Qatar's blog (Qatar's Telecom Regulator). Click here to continue reading the post.

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