10 Comments

Summary:

Gamification, that buzz word panned as hype by some, has increasingly won over companies, investors and even research firms like Gartner, which now predicts half of all companies will use gamification by 2015. So what’s next? How about gamification certification?

gamificationiStock_000008986063Small

Gamification, that buzz word panned as hype by some, has increasingly won over companies, investors and even research firms like Gartner, which now predicts half of all companies will use gamification by 2015. So what’s next? How about gamification certification.

The Gamification Summit, which is coming to New York on Sept. 15-16, is now announcing it will offer the first Gamification Design Certificate to people who complete a two-day course at the summit. The curriculum and workshops are designed to establish the basics of effectively adding game mechanics to drive consumer and employee engagement. Students will also need to complete a practical exam applying gamification to a project, which will be reviewed by Gamification Summit founder Gabe Zichermann and top executives from gamification companies such as Bunchball, Badgeville, PlayGen and BigDoor.

Growing need for gamification skills

Zichermann said organizations and individuals have increasingly requested formal training on gamification. He said the program will explore the basics of human motivation, segmenting player behavior and implementing features like leaderboards, achievements, challenges and rewards in a very agile way. A recent survey by Saatchi & Saatchi found that 83 percent of respondents were interested in working for a company that used gamification to motivate people. Zichermann expects there will be 10,000 gamification jobs created in the next decade.

“We’re seeing gamification going into all kinds of organizations: education, government, health care, all kinds of companies,” said Zichermann. “We need to have a reliable, predictable, quality education series of processes and steps that people can follow so they can build gamified solutions.”

Gamification continues to gather steam and some of the top companies are pulling down some big money. Badgeville last month grabbed $12 million, while Bunchball raised $6.5 million in June.

Game mechanics show results

Next Jump's Fitness Portal health program

I wrote about some of the problems and the promise of gamification last year, and I do think it has a lot of potential when applied well. Many instances, however, have been thoughtless implementations of badges and points that aren’t relevant to the product or company. That’s why certification could well be a good thing, serving to establish the basics while insisting that game mechanics must be intelligent and relevant if they’re going to succeed.

Skeptics still question the effectiveness of gamification and may look at certification for gamification as just piling on more hype. But I’ve seen it in action, and it can work well when implemented intelligently. Next Jump, an offers and rewards company in New York, built its own internal health application that split the company into five teams and rewarded the winning team that exercised the most with cash in each team member’s health savings accounts. The percentage of workers who exercised regularly at the company’s gym went from less than 20 percent to about 70 percent with the new program. Now Next Jump is looking to license its software to other companies.

Gamification is an engagement tool

This is the power of gamification. It isn’t about building up points for its own sake; it’s about engagement, said Zichermann. He said companies are looking past the buzzy name and seeing the value of gamification because it ultimately builds a better, deeper relationship with users.

“If you build engagement, revenue flows. If you engage them well, legitimately, honestly and transparently, they will buy from you,” Zichermann said. “It turns out gamification is the best tool to get engagement.”

The Summit — which will feature speakers from Microsoft, Google, Mint.com, GiltGroupe, Aetna, MLB and others —  is expected to sell out with 400 attendees, about 50 of whom Zichermann believes will seek certification. Over time, he hopes to expand the certification program, offer more levels and branch out across the country.

Again, I think there are still plenty of bad examples of gamification and there are cases where it doesn’t do much to achieve a deeper goal. But in best case examples, I do agree it’s all about engagement, and when done well, gamification can produce results, as it did for Next Jump. It’s early days in understanding gamification and I’m not sure every company will need to have a certified expert to understand these concepts. But I think that gamification is here to stay, with or without certification.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. You might want to try spelling people’s names correctly.

    1. Thanks for the heads up. Made the fix.

  2. Dmitry Shapiro Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    FAIL !!!! We need to STOP treating each other as ‘things to be manipulated by algorithms and game mechanics’

    1. Dmitry – I agree in principle (it’s hard not to)…but what do you mean exactly?

      1. Because commerce should be around simple, real value exchange. http://gapingvoid.com/2011/08/14/your-customer-wont-take-a-bullet-for-you/

    2. Dmitry — gamification is only an extension of advertising and marketing. If you personally choose not to be “manipulated by algorithms and game mechanics and advertisements” then that is your choice. But like it or not, people as a whole have certain psychological drivers that help in making our daily decisions. We have used these motivators throughout our lives (get a gold star for taking out the trash) and there is no reason that they shouldn’t be used in any business or product to help that business reach their goals. It is still the audience’s choice whether or not to participate.

  3. Peter Claridge Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Our company is seriously looking in to the gamification concept to add to our client portal. We want to create more engagement with our customers after they’ve made the purchase or encourage them to participate in the community more and from the research we’ve done, gamification, when done right, helps foster a vibrant and active community.

    1. Peter, you’re absolutely right that gamification, when done right, helps foster a vibrant and active community. At Badgeville, were I’m the marketing director, we see this all the time across our customers. In the end, business goals are being met and exceeded with gamification, but from the user perspective it actually also helps the community feel more active, engaged, and fun/useful. I hate the term win win, but it actually is when applied right.

  4. Gamification, an updated version of behaviourist method to manipulate others? Levels, badges, points, … a virtual version of extrinsic rewards … The logic behind it is still “you do this and get that”, isn’t it?

Comments have been disabled for this post