The power of games to drive response and change behavior is driving corporate interest in what is being called "gamification".
According to the Los Angeles Times, research firm M2 Research estimates in a recent report that spending on gamification projects will grow to as much as $2.8 billion by 2016 from $100 million this year. The story quotes M2 Research analyst Wanda Meloni:
"We know anecdotally that engagement increases substantially when game mechanics are applied. How that affects customer loyalty and translates in terms of increased revenue is still being worked out."
Among the story's examples of companies using gamification is NBC Universal, which increased page views and stickiness on the website for its "Psych" series when it added games that allowed fans to earn points. SAP is also exploring the idea of using gamification to get users more engaged with its enterprise software. It's a worthy goal, given the way many people feel about the software they use at work.
InformationWeek describes an SAP product demo that incorporated game elements, and sent a member of its technical team to the recent Gamification Summit in San Francisco. Assurant is also experimenting with business training games to help get employees in line with corporate strategy during a business transformation. The first module, covering corporate strategy, featured a challenge in which the company president, in avatar form, hangs from a parachute. With each wrong answer, the parachute lost a string. It was a hit when demonstrated for employees at an all-company meeting. Successive games allowed employees to spend a virtual “day in the life” of coworkers and learn all of the myriad and sometimes complicated ways Assurant earns money.
Meanwhile, as disparate elements from the serious games and loyalty industries coalesce around the banner of Gamification, there is debate as to whether it is the right flag to unfurl. At GDC 2011 on Tuesday, a panel debated over the term "Gamification."
Having a provocative term such as "gamification" has put a spotlight on a category very closely related to "serious games." "Gamification," after only about year of existing, already has 552,000 Google references, while the at least decade-old term "serious games" has 770,000.