02 Jan 2014

Can gamification save the world ? (2)


game playIn a first article in this series related to the gaming sector, we showcased an example of game addressing the environment protection. According to different surveys, it seems to be possible to raise public awareness through unconventional ways and methods like game or theater.

While we are more and more aware that a behavioral change is necessary to reach a sustainable way of living for everybody on this planet, can we achieve significant improvements by adopting a game play approach in our daily activities ? This is the question we attempt to answer through this post …
In this time of Christmas holidays where most of the young were waiting nervously to receive their new video game console ordered … making a insight into the concept of gamification is useful.

The power of gaming is incredibly strong because it relates to the very fundamental feelings and motivation of the human being : self-expression, competition, achievement, desire for reward, social status … and also altruism among others.

Concept of gamification

Gamification is taking elements of game play that you find in traditional games and incorporating them in non-game scenarios […]. It’s taking the psychological and behavioral elements that make games attractive and applying them to other domains”, says Troy Bankhead, Head of Marketing and Communication with KNEIP, a leading Luxembourg-based fund management data publication and reporting company.

Why are we introducing the game play approach into non-game activities ? Do the younger generations tend to behave like children or is it part of the technological progress that brings in our daily life, through very common devices like smart phones and tablets, the ability to play alone wherever we are and whatever the time span we have ? This is a big revolution against the recent past where we could not play at any time, just because it was not possible to bring in one’s pocket the board games and other game boxes we used at home.
This is definitely the ICT (information and communication technologies) that have allowed everyone to get the opportunity to play at any time. Adding to this the unstable economic environment we are undergoing, including growing pressure at the workplace, playing games is becoming a daily leisure activity to catch happiness on the spot. In the circumstances, it has paved the way for companies to integrate in their working processes some game play components that would make the workflows more exciting (or less annoying) both for the customers and the employees, resulting in a better customers’ satisfaction and a stronger employees’ involvement.
“With gamification, you figure out ways to make normally mundane tasks or processes more interesting and engaging for the client”, Troy Bankhead explains. It makes serious tasks more fun to engage people in doing them.

Applications of gamification : no limit !

In business, it helps improving customer engagement and loyalty.
In any institution – be it a company or a state agency – it can provide incentives for employees. Game elements can be very useful for encouraging both children and adults to apply themselves to a task.
The education sector is obviously a favorite environment, with the e-learning and the concept of learning by playing.

Last but not least, gamification can (will) play a growing role in promoting new ideas, in communicating instructions or more generally in raising awareness on different topics. At a nation- or worldwide level, the risk is not to overlook that gamification might be used by States to implicitly alter the population’s behavior in order to reinforce their control of it, while in the same time giving people the illusion of freedom and happiness through gaming.

Despite the cautions about the misuse of games, gamification as a concept has great potential for making significant improvements on an individual, social and global scale. Compared to traditional video gaming where players engage in virtual worlds, gamification has the potential for real-world change”,says Dany Braunstein an Australian psychologist, researcher and media consultant.

From virtual to real world : positive experiences

According to Jane McGonigal, a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games, who wrote the book “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” (Penguin Press, 2011), the game environment indeed provides optimism for the user/ player to believe that success is not only possible, but likely, if they participate fully which therefore empowers people to work hard and achieve their goals. Games also encourage users to think creatively, which promotes problem solving and “thinking outside the box” which is useful for developing innovative and novel solutions to problems which results in increased positive outcomes.

Dany Braunstein outlines : “Research has shown that people who play a game based on a highly believable narrative, for example an oil shortage that would affect the way they drive their car, buy food, etc, actually produced a change in their daily habits which endured beyond the time spent playing the game (McGonigal, 2011). Tapping into the human desire for purpose, games that provide meaningful engagement are likely to increase people’s sense of happiness or satisfaction and increase the likelihood that they will continue these behaviours. By increasing people’s motivation for action, gamified applications and games can support people to meet personal or social goals and increase learning and skill building which improves confidence and competence. Also, by increasing awareness for issues such as social interaction, social responsibility, and community-building for example, the movement can reduce social isolation and contribute to wider social change”.

Conclusion : taking the best from gamification …

Gamification is definitely a by-product of the technical innovation in ICT. It opens unexpected doors and areas of application. How will it be used is the next question.
On one side, there is the risk of using knowledge about psychological effects of gaming to support commercial aims. If there is a regulated framework in place to avoid bad practices, using gamification for growing one’s business is not to blame.
On the other side, Danya Braunstein mentions that “if gamification can promote positive effects for both the individual and for society then this is a fantastic opportunity for making significant improvements in how people behave in a range of areas. As technology changes, and people’s interaction with technology increases, this could be a valuable way of harnessing technology to improve the world that we live in for ourselves and for future generations”.

Let’s be positive and hope gamification will be harnessed to support the paradigm shift that is necessary to open the humanity a new area of prosperity, that would be any longer built on material wealth and natural resources.
Be ready to play in 2014 !


Further developments from Jane McGonigale : http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

2 Responses to Can gamification save the world ? (2)
  1. Xavier, we are not introducing game play into an application. We take game design elements and add them to create a playful/gameful experience. But we are not creating a game. LinkedIn is not a game, but it is heavily gamified.
    When you have driven any of the hybrid or electrical vehicles, you will have encountered gamification design elements. Chevrolet Volt with the ball in the tube, Ford with the growing leaves on the dashboard, Fiat with Ecoville etc. Other examples where gamification is applied are LinkedIn or Amazon (I just wrote a larger analysis on them on my website.

    And we are doing that not because we don’t get the attention of millenials, in fact it shows that the age is independent, different age ranges engage by the same amount. Good gamification creates a feedback loop, gives autonomy, a sense of learning and mastery, enables socializing etc. Many things that we appreciate at work and in other aspects of life.

    Here are some more sustainability examples:

  2. Sehr geehrter Mario,
    Thank you for your valuable comment ! I speak about “game play approach”, meaning that we just inspire from games to get business or non-game applications more funny.
    Your demonstration on gamification of LinkedIn on your website is great !
    I definitely keep in mind your details.

    Grüsse aus Luxemburg / Regards

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