I originally wrote this in 2014, but am re-upping it now because it’s truer than ever, and too many still aren’t getting in the game.
At a recent client meeting I did what I often do: use a relatively obscure term that requires a level of ‘get-it-ness’ that has yet to fully penetrate the popular consciousness. That term is ‘gamification.’
The easy definition? Take the techniques games use to delight their players, and apply them to non-game entities and actions.
Need an example? Try this:
• Use of color and design to elicit visual interest and tactile engagement? Check.
• Player-monitorable feedback indicating incremental success toward a singular goal? Check.
• Optimized for replicable pleasure response even after repeated play? Check.
Yup, it’s a game.
I’m talking about vacuuming for Hoover’s sake. Dyson took a mundane, even despised household chore and recreated it into a game called ‘holy moly, look at the crap I pulled out of my carpet—I wonder have many times I can fill the canister.’ To some (including me) it’s as addictive as Sid Meier’s Civilization. And that’s how my beloved wife gets me to vacuum. Not as often as she’d like, but still, she knows she can sic me on doing the Dyson and I’m good for a couple of hours (as long as my back-queue of Radiolab podcasts holds out).
Dyson gamified a chore. And became a billionaire in the process.
Gamification is nothing new.
Remember Tom Sawyer? A fence that needed whitewashing?
And how he got others to do if for him?
Call it Twainian gamification.
Said client (referred to above) took mild offense because he perceived ‘gamification’ to be a ‘too fey’ description for that which his very serious company was doing. I get that, but come on, if gamification can sell your service/product like Dyson sells vacuums, wouldn’t you just love that?
Is gamification serious?
Deloitte thinks so.
Call it ‘user interface simplification and addictive repeat engagement amplification’ if your MBA requires it. But really, it’s called ‘gamification.’
– D.P. Knudten