What is gamification?
Gamification is the application of game elements, thinking and/or design in a non-game context to solve problems and produce controlled results. For the consumer, this means challenges, quests, leaderboards, competitions, badges and/or prizes.
So, essentially: do this task and you will be recognized and rewarded.
It’s a classic method that’s worked for decades. Remember when your parents said, “you can have dessert, but only if you finish your vegetables”? That was a form of gamification (whether we knew it or not). Now, gamification has taken a whole new form and is being introduced in advertising and marketing to engage consumers and involve them with brands.
A great example of effective brand gamification
In January 2012, Nike launched a new application called Nike+, which allows users with smartphones to track their run frequency, miles run and personal running goals on their phones. They then have the option to share their accomplishments on social media websites. This app allows users to compare themselves to others, achieve badges, and view personal growth and progress on their mobile phone.
This gamification model makes an engaging connection between a virtual world and the real world – motivating customers to make goals and continue personal development through rewards like badges, virtual cheering and sharing.
Why does gamification work so well?
Games reel you in with easy introductory levels, and tasks that come with quick rewards. Huge shots of dopamine – a “feel-good” chemical – are released in the brain. After a while, the levels get harder to complete, making it more difficult to get the same dopamine high that was experienced in the introductory levels. This is what keeps users engaged and coming back for more.
Gamification feeds off cravings for:
Social status is a big motivator to play games. People love sharing successes with friends and peers. By being able to show achievements and virtual status – users can give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back.
Humans are hardwired to crave task-reward-task-reward. It’s an itch that can only be scratched by logging in to Farmville and harvesting more and more crops for virtual cash. Every time someone completes one of these tasks and receives a reward, dopamine is released in the brain.
Everyone’s doing it, so you should too. With shareability, leaderboards and word of mouth – it’s easy for games to go viral. When enough people participate, games can skew social norms. For instance, if an organization wanted their community to cut back on sugar consumption, they could create an app that tracks a person’s sugar intake, and then rewards them for staying below the limit. If this was shared among the whole community, it could lead to a social change where more people choose to live a healthier lifestyle by cutting back on sugar. With gamification, brands can create trends, form habits and lead communities in making positive changes.
The future of gamification
Gamification is a trending, fun way to keep customers engaged, and by the numbers, it’s not going to disappear any time soon. It’s predicted that by 2015, over 50% of companies will use gamification for customer retention. By the end of 2013, an estimated 500 million dollars will be spent in the US on gamification, and by 2015 that number will grow to over two billion dollars. This sets gamification up to be one of the fastest growing advertising trends to be seen in the next five years.
The Gamification Revolution is already well under-way and is a great marketing tool for businesses to interact with customers in a way that not only helps solve problems, but keeps customers engaged.
Want to learn how your brand and website can make the most of gamification?