At 900lbs, we believe gamification is the best way to engage audiences, employees, and retain customer loyalty when creating unique interactive experiences. So, how can we create unique experiences that feel fun and not laborious? To help demystify this area of design, we have put together a fun overview.
Since 2013, the term “Gamification” has received a lot of attention due to the way it engages people in all sectors of the workforce, education sectors, and even civil activities. By definition, Gamification is a technique where designers insert gameplay elements in non-gaming settings to enhance user engagement with a product or service. As a company full of creatives, we like to incorporate five essential gamification techniques, goals, rules, feedback, rewards, and motivation.
Goals: Setting goals for users gives them a sense of purpose in the system. When we accomplish those goals, it empowers us with a feeling of accomplishment. This is an essential component of fun.
Rules, or limitations, actually help us become more creative and appreciate the “box” we are working in. The best rules are simple to understand and easy to execute for the user.
Feedback: Giving progress feedback to the user allows them to see how well they’re accomplishing the goals they’re given by following the rules of the challenge. Visual feedback comes in different forms like progress bars, levels, encouraging messaging, animations, etc.
Rewards: Reward systems are one of the most widely used gamification features and there are things we give users for the time and effort they put into the challenge. These are visuals like badges, trophies, coins, points, stickers, avatars, leaderboard ranks, and even real money.
Motivation: Points and special achievement badges quantify performance and place the user on a leaderboard tapping into competition among users. Finally, offering motivation for users to execute can be one of two types: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is internal curiosity, pride, or a sense of personal achievement. Extrinsic motivation comes in the form of awards like praise, grade or leaderboard status, and money. Steps to successfully implement gamification requires empathy and respect of the player or users and a clear understanding of the mission and insight on how to motivate them to achieve the goals you set for them.
Gamification can also be a powerful tool for creativity and innovation. Designers use it to drive user engagement and inject fun elements into applications and systems that might otherwise lack immediacy or relevance for users. Incentivizing users with game elements allows them to achieve goals without them realizing they are doing it. People enjoy interactivity and satisfying their curiosity, and designers can employ a suitable social element to increase their engagement.
According to Gallup Polls’ Employee Engagement Survey tracked from 2000-2019, engagement in the workplace (defined as individuals in an organization who are enthusiastic about, involved in, and committed to their work and to the workplace) has increased by 7% over the last 7 years, partially due to the implementation of gamification.
“We play when it’s fun. We work when it’s not”
We apply this to our practical applications and immersive experiences by integrating small features that leverage game science. Consider how fitness apps create community engagement and a sense of accomplishment by earning badges and “virtual high-fives” that make the experience fun to interact with.
Some people have a negative connotation with the term gamification because they think of the typical “Gamer” stereotype. We associate video games gamers with the male teenager wasting time and brainwashing them into a zombie-like effect. The truth is the world is being transformed by play. “Gamer” is no longer a dirty word and stereotypical gamers aren’t as recognizable anymore. Last year, Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report indicated that Mobile gaming had a 51% revenue share amongst all gaming platforms.
Newzoo’s Gamer Segmentation report from 2019 also showed that 63% of mobile gamers are represented by females, with 60% of them playing daily. The point is… more people and more diverse types of people are gaming enthusiasts than you might expect.
Games are also entering a modern era encompassing more industries and disciplines. Serious games or games that have a purpose beyond entertainment, (not games that require serious effort to play, as their moniker suggests) are increasingly being used by companies as potent vehicles to educate, evaluate, or make a social impact. Their influence is being felt across healthcare, where games are delivering neurodevelopmental assessments to children, and military defense, where simulations in virtual reality add an unprecedented, tactile layer to training.
FINDING THE FUN TO MOTIVATE YOUR AUDIENCE
Finding a serious application for your game could attract cross-industry partnerships or collaborations. Serious games provide studios with an opportunity to make an impact beyond play by exploring relevant or topical themes as part of a character’s journey or a broader narrative or theme. Even studios like Ubisoft, through games like Assassin’s Creed: Origins, created educational content to allow students to learn about historical Egypt.
Video games have become increasingly popular among all age groups and genders in recent years and are often considered one of the central entertainment media of the future. Without a doubt, video games inherently possess a high level of motivational potential and scientific thinking.
In order to think creatively, your organization needs to dedicate time and resources to immersion in creative media and other ways you can find inspiration. At 900lbs, game development is the baseline expertise of many team members in our agency and they use their influence, inspiration, and learnings from the gaming world to build many of our experiences – with or without gamification. Game development is an umbrella of creative avenues that bridge into our visuals for innovation. 900lbs cross-pollinates and marries a range of skills including 2D motion graphics, 3D environments and characters, 3D and menu animation, dynamic lighting, UX, UI, storytelling, VFX, narration, game engines, etc.
USE MODERATION – AVOID LOSING YOUR AUDIENCE
On the other hand, there are ways that gamification can go wrong and there are a few things to consider when implementing gamification into your business initiatives. Companies do not want to excessively use gamification as a crutch or gimmick to replace bad business. Gamification should tie into the company’s high-level goals and internal identity. Employees that are not as motivated may feel like gamification is another task to perform and, as a result, may not demonstrate much devotion. Also, highly competitive employees might overcommit and find ways to cheat or sabotage other colleagues. After all, work still needs to get done and too much play could be distracting. When gamification methods are thrown in clumsily and hastily it will lose its value and gain criticism from the users. The talk among users should be how they enjoyed the experience and not how their time was wasted or how they would do to improve it. As with all design, it needs to be carefully considered, designed, and tested often.
Another consideration is that by creating poor gamified experiences, you have the potential to lose your audience and user base. Creating bland or forgettable experiences can have a serious long-term effect on what goal you are trying to achieve. Gamification is supposed to remove a lot of the essence and depth of a full-featured game. Games are about discovery and overcoming trials so implementing the same familiar mechanic may deter your audience. You have one chance to engage your audience and losing them could lose potential business, hurt your brand, or affect employee morale. The 6D approach is one the most commonly used and was developed by Werbach and Hunter in their book, “For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business”. The 6D gamification framework consists of 6 steps: Define business objectives, Delineate target behaviors, Describe the players, Devise activity loops, Don’t forget the fun, and Deploy appropriate tools.
Finally, art styles play a huge role in first and lasting impressions of the experience. If it’s too playful you could turn-off the audience or forget they are engaging in a company-branded experience. If it’s too static and uninteresting, it could hurt the aesthetic and lose the audience before they even get started. In some of the best implementations of gamification, the players get lost in the experience due to the ease and subtle implementation of the gamified elements. You want to immerse your customer with an easy-to-learn experience so they do not even think in gaming terms. Some examples are apps like Duolingo, Waze and even Grammarly; they incorporate systems that encourage users to continue using them through badges, progress reports and leveling systems that interact with the user seamlessly, and with minimal effort on the user.
Art Style that is UI-driven, universally appealing, and approachable to a casual audience.
Art Style that is too stylized for casual audiences and recognizable as a type of video game genre.
The benefits of adding gamification design techniques to your business, whether in the office, product development, or education, are limitless. 900lbs has integrated gamification in many of our experiences and our team is ready to transform your brand using the techniques discussed in this blog post. We are constantly inspired by a large spectrum of media such as video games, movies, tradition and modern art, design, mobile apps, websites, other talented agencies, future technology, each other in-house, and our clients’ motivations to name a few things that allow us to mold your experience. What influences inspire your brand? What do you see trending in technology and in your industry that we can collaborate on? How far can we push the idea of gamification for learning, collaboration, and business for your company? Partner with 900lbs to explore how gamification can have a positive impact on your company.