I have been talking a lot about Gamification in my latest posts.
As a reminder, Gamification is the use of game mechanics in a non-gaming environment. It uses engagement mechanics from all console and online games to make people have a good time even if the task is boring and repetitive. Adding some game angles in a form that needs to be filled out, will make people engage more, give accurate information and have a good time at the same time. Scientists have done some research on this phenomenon and they have discovered that when we are having fun, the hormone Dopamine flows abundantly in our brain. This is what Gamification is all about, let Dopamine flow and the marketer using Gamification will do its best to have you overdose on Dopamine.
Now we understand what Gamification is all about and how we can use it in a non-gaming environment.
Let’s have a look at Gamification being used in a more personal way, when we are sick.
Jane Mc Gonigal wrote great books about this subject (Reality is broken: why games make us better and how they can change the world, and SuperBetter, a revolutionary approach to getting stronger, happier, braver and more resilient). She used Gamification to help herself get better, following a severe concussion. She turned her recovery process into a resilience building game. Her first goal was a simple motivational exercise that became a set of rules for post traumatic disorder. She helps individuals faced with personal health challenges (depression, anxiety, chronic pain, stress) to get support from their allies (friends and families). She has done extensive research into the ways all games change how we respond to stress, challenges and pain. She has put together steps to get stronger, happier and braver in the face of depression, anxiety, illness and injury. I highly encourage you to follow her and read what she writes as it is fascinating. Today she is doing much better and is using her experience to help people with the same issues. She has helped many people and the Gamification market to understand its full capacity.
Back in December 2014, I was hit by a car and suffered many injuries. I lost sense of taste and smell, lost audition in my left hear, loss of words and difficulty reading as my short-term memory was damaged. I had over 18 months of depression and lack of resilience. Once I started to feel better (not cured but finding some resources), I was sent to a special unit of the university hospital where I live. They deal with head injuries and trauma. I followed a 2 months’ test programme that showed my problems very clearly. I had not lost words but I had lost access to the words. My short-term memory needed to be trained again and I needed to learn strategies to find my words and get around memory issues.
Doctors asked me to follow a 50-hour speech therapy programme. I am still in a middle of it as it has been extended to 100 hours.
I came into this programme with no knowledge of what to expect. What amazed me and still does is the fact that we work as much with words as with strategy.
From the very beginning, the speech therapist introduced games for strategy and for mind training. It was great for me as I was struggling with my condition, had terrible headaches and I was not engaged at all.
The games we play are very well designed and cover a lot of areas.
One game allows different size cars to go through a major traffic jam. In order to succeed with this game, you need to have a good 3D explanation of the board loaded with cars and trucks. Then you need to move the cars that prevent the red car to exit the traffic jam. As you progress with the game, it becomes more difficult and you need to have a good strategy to be successful. The good news with this game and all the other games is the fact that you cannot lose, you can just succeed or try until you succeed. This means that for people who struggle with their conditions, not being able to find the exit for the red car will not create a reason for deepening their depression.
Another game makes you place different shaped pieces on a board with hints. You have 3 colors and 3 shapes. At the beginning hints are very detailed and so you find the combination very easily. When you have reached the 10th level, hints become scarce and it is then very difficult to find the right combination.
I have been playing with many other board games to help me put together strategies around words and memory.
All these games have been very engaging and they have allowed me to focus without realizing it. I was in a state where Dopamine flowed and it was like I did not realize I was working. I was so engaged and so much into thinking about the strategy in a fun way that I did not feel my headaches, my struggles and most importantly I did not notice my limitations.
The most remarkable thing that I noticed is that moving from games to words, the strategy I put in place using games helped me find a way around my lack of words. For example, I was incapable of finding words starting with any letter. I remember my speech therapist asking me to give her words starting with the letter P. I could only find 6 when the French vocabulary is much richer than that.
Now when we work on this, I have strategy to work around my problem. I start with pa, pe, pi, po, pu… and all the words come to mind more easily. Also when in a middle of a sentence a word is missing, I now will try to find a synonym or will explain what I have in mind about the word. This came painlessly just as an application of the game strategies. It was not easy and it is not over yet but game mechanics made it much easier.
These examples of my own story show that game mechanics can be used in many circumstances.
First in business where marketing is king and you want people to be engaged and close to a brand.
Then with collaborative economy and personalized everything, Gamification makes it easier for marketers to be successful and make people enjoy what they do.
Finally, it can be used in medical applications so you can make complex tasks fun, productive and engaged.
I know friends who are using Gamification for their children. The house chores are being optimized and fun using game mechanics.
This is a very important point with the millennials coming to work. I’d rather call them the G generation for Gamification generation. Many from this generation have learnt to read on a console.
They were born with games in their hands. They have been connected their whole lives and have studied with internet. Google is their best friend (mostly YouTube). They are very comfortable all gaming mechanics and would be lost without them.
This is why brands need to be smart and transform or pivot (to use agile terms). We cannot expect to run businesses like the way we used to. The G generation will engage with gaming approach and gaming mechanics in all their activities. If a brand wants to be successful it will have to speak the same language as its customers. Indeed, it is like speaking the same language. It is approaching the subject with a new culture. The cross-cultural angle is essential as the change that has happened around the year 2000, has been like never before. Brands who have started this change will win market share with the new generation while others will struggle.
In conclusion, as we have seen, Gamification has many angles. In the end though, it is about the same approach. How can we best engaged people in any activity? How can we use people personalized experience and add game mechanics around it? How can we have fun doing something that is not fun? How can we improve and motivate ourselves in the process?
Many companies have started to work on these changes and may marketers have realized that with the upcoming arrival of millennials in the work place, things need to change now. Gamification is fun to implement and very effective. I am available if you want to discuss this further or if you have any question.