Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gamification is the New Web 2.0

BatesHook is my favorite name for a marketing firm. Ms. Bates and Mr. Hook are avid bloggers and well-respected marketing consultants, so this entry caught our eye:

"Gamification is the new Web 2.0"

Mr. Hook says "Try it out: Next time you talk about the future of marketing, add the words "Gamification" and "Game Mechanics." Suddenly you morph from marketing expert to marketing genius. You might be promoted on the spot. The world will be your oyster."

He goes on to half-ridicule, half-celebrate the power (and the hype) around game-based communications.

Hook's points:

Gamification will transform education and finally fix that darn Global Warming thing. Seriously, wouldn't you study that much harder if a class valedictorian was called "White Knight Paladin Level 20"? Of course you would. At least that's what Seth Priebatsch, the founder and Chief Ninja (You can't make that stuff up.) of SCVNGR told the world at his South by Southwest keynote in Austin. He referred to the education system as "one of the most perfect game ecosystems that's out there, "full of challenges, rewards, rules, allies, enemies, countdowns, and incentives, "all sorts of things that basically make school the best real-world implementation of a game that's out there. Priebatsch called education "a poorly designed game; it's kind of broken."

What is gamification? Gamification is the use of game place mechanics in order to encourage people to adopt applications and, ultimately, change behavior. Think about Foursquare: People are encouraged to check-in at physical locations in order to earn badges, mayorships and rewards (coupons, freebies, etc.). Gamification or Game Mechanics work because it makes technology more engaging/entertaining by encouraging desired behavior and taps into the human desire to play a game. It can help to perform tasks that are normally considered boring or arduous.

Gamification will gain in importance. There's a good case to be made that 'Pleasure' should be added to the 5 P's of marketing. Why shouldn't pleasure be an extension of a great customer experiences? Right now, customer experiences are mostly limited to well-working and easy to use. In the near future, a great customer experience has to add the fun factor. When you're being rewarded to do your timesheets, you'll them more timely. And it might be even a task you'll be looking forward to. You can create 'player journeys' to reward people with status, access and power – you create meaning inside of the mechanics. Loyalty programs can be expanded through leaderboards, each customer interaction can become an enjoyable experience.

But, please, don't overhype the hype. Gamification is an important tactic to help change human behavior. It can make life more entertaining and more pleasurable. It will make arduous tasks more enjoyable. It can be used to change bad habits and transform into more positive actions. But, let's stop the hype before it gets really started. Let's deliver on small promises before we promise the world.

And speaking of hype. What's the theme of this months (5th annual) Ad Age Digital Conference? "New Gaming Economy" with a keynote delivered by EA's CEO. With 700 attendees over its two day event and a goal to showcase the best and most interesting digital innovation, highlight how technology is changing consumer behavior, and highlight what's working for marketers...gamification should be giving Mr. Hook ample targets.

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