Our VP of Gamification, Lee Marvin, breaks down the concept of gamification and what to review before applying gamification for your business.
On my last team-building exercise (before we were hit by yet another lockdown), I decided to spice things up. Naturally, because it was the Gamification Team, we just had to make the session gamified.
There was not enough manpower to devise a fancy setup for the exercise, but we had more than enough materials to gamify the session: a goal, a challenge, and the rewards. Armed with a meter of pizza, several cups, and other ingredients, plus a ball, the team building session turned into a pizza and potion bowling alley. We had our fill of pizza and fun, though some of the less lucky ones had to drink questionable concoctions that may or may not have contained cornstarch, coffee, and soda.
This is gamification in its more basic form: using the game elements with YOUR goals in mind. When you understand how to implement the game elements, you can gamify basically everything. This is actually what I do in Agate. We gamified learning, advertising, training, and of course, this team-building session.
Now I’m sure most of you are thinking: “…but Marvin, your company is focused on games and tech! How can my non-tech, non-gaming company do that?”
It might surprise you, but the very core concept of gamification is neither games nor tech. The center of gamification is the people, and people love to be challenged. It’s the reason we all throw our balled-up trash as if we were pro basketball players — even if we would have better success by walking and throwing the trash away normally: Everyone just wants to play. That said, applying gamification at work is a bit more complicated than finding a fun way to throw your trash.
The tricky part of using gamification for business is you need to understand what drives the people involved in your business. We need to challenge them just enough to excite them, while minding the business goal as well. We don’t want gamification to be challenging enough to jeopardize your business, we want it to enhance the business process. So how do we do that?
Having spent over a decade in the game business, our team in Agate found the answer close by: the core game loop. This is the very same process that motivates millions of gamers to play, and we are applying it into the business process to create our gamified solutions. This core game loop is an effective way to reward users for progressing through the repetitiveness of gaming — and quite evidently, for business.
To gamify the repetitive part of business, you need to find out what the suitable “triggers” and “rewards” are to your target audience. Trigger refers to what motivates people to start an action, and reward is what keeps them going until they reach progression. However, this core game loop isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
When designing gamification, you have to incorporate the game loop while considering the business goals. As different business activities have different goals, there will also be different sets of triggers and rewards. To do this, you have to identify the loopholes in your business process and use the core game loop to overcome those loopholes. In simpler terms, find out where motivation could improve your business process. We call our approach of using the core game loop “Gaming the Problem” where we bring together game mechanics, user segmentation, and motivational/core loops in a collaborative development process.
Now let me give you my personal account in applying gamification. It started when our team in Agate noticed the engagement problem in the learning and development process.
Many people started their LnD program but almost as many didn’t finish, rendering the program ineffective. This is the loophole. Then, we use gamification to motivate them and keep them interested in their learning program, resulting in our mobile LnD application, Levio. However, the same engagement problem in different business processes (marketing) would lead us to create Venhall (a platform for immersive marketing experience) and an array of HTML5 games (to be embedded in various client’s mobile applications). This is because of the difference in user segmentation (Venhall for B2B marketing and HTML5 games for B2C marketing) and core loops (Levio for learning, while Venhall and HTML5 games are for marketing).
So there we go: the basics of gamification and finding the right game-based solutions for you. It can be a fun way to improve a process, but you do have to understand the weak point of your process and whether it’s fixable with gamification. Having a data-backed user segmentation would also help in deciding the kind of experience you want to create with gamification. It might suit your business better than you think!