Chris J Powell

Gamification in the Work Place

For some time I have been a passive student of Game Theory and how to apply it to the work that I do but lately my efforts at understanding the concept and the opportunities that can be applied to not just my customer base but to my colleagues has taken a strange turn towards Gamification.  The two share only “Game” in common and both are vastly different in the goals and potentially the outcomes as well.

Let’s start with the concept of Gamification.  The concept is not new and has been around for some time but is starting to gain traction in many workplaces looking to rebuild or revitalize aging and antiquated incentive programs.  It comes from the general increase in Video Game players that are in the workforce which according to a Study by Parks Associates has grown more than 241% since 2008.  The theory behind Gamification is to play on the desire of human nature to be the best that we can be and to be able to share that “best” status like a medal of honor.

Social Networks have used this concept for some time and the Location Service Four Square is a great example of how Gamification and human pride can drive usage and benefit a location (I never became the mayor of any location and unless there was an award for being a home body…I just don’t get out enough to get into the concept) but I am all for doing things to earn a badge and effectively build a chest full of medals!

This can be applied across almost any function and department and gives the opportunity for Management to look at all the individual Metrics that are important for “success” and apply a points system to the functions.  The Badge effectively costs nothing beyond development and tracking and has proven very successful for organizations like SAP, Apple and Dell.

The Social Layer of our lives is done, their is a framework that has laid out a connection that bridges across class, income, countries and languages.  Now it is time to focus on extending that Social Layer to the Game Layer…I try to apply several parts of core Game Dynamics and during my research I have become a quick follower of SCVNGR and their Game Dynamics.

My favorites include:

  1. The Appointment Dynamic: Making it worthwhile and worthy of the success of a timed event (think Happy Hour).
  2. Behavioral Momentum: The tendency of individuals to keep doing what they have been doing!
  3. Achievement: A virtual or physical representation of having accomplished a task (think levels, badges and rewards).
  4. Communal Discovery: The collective need for us to solve a problem or challenge.
  5. Endless Games: Think FarmVille…I am a Farmville Widower and there has been more than one occasion where I had to wait to do things while my Wife waited for an Eggplant to be ready to harvest!
  6. Pride: One of the 7 Deadly Sins it may be…but that is when Pride is taken to the extreme.  Being proud of your accomplishments is good and healthy…and when it relates to hard work and the fact that something was earned…well that takes things to a whole new level.

I like the concept and am all for the long term gains that can be achieved by building “fun” into the Work Place, especially when the focus goes beyond just “do this today and get $20”.  Think of the Endless Game…a Never Ending Story that goes on and on…to make work Fun…to place an incentive on the most common tasks and allow those point to add up…well that is a measure of success.  Sure there is the possibility of Game Cheats being developed…but guess what…cheaters are already cheating the system that is in place!

For IT Leaders…this innovation can be a driving force to connect the technology to the Social Layer of your business.  For Managers/Directors and HR Professionals…The Gamification of your Work Place can have a profound effect on Productivity, Profit and Satisfaction.


Chris J Powell

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