Does gamification work? is one of those questions that comes up on a frequent basis. At this stage, with several projects behind us, we can confidently say, yes it works for our clients when we have clear objectives, good research and the opportunity to test the pilot to validate the findings. Of course, I have a vested interest in saying this.
Let’s look at it this way, behavioural based application building continues to grow, the games industry and exposure to games at all ages continue to grow. So our familiarity to games, game mechanics and playful nudging is ever increasing. Hence, I personally don’t believe gamification or whatever other words you want to call it, is going away any time soon.
Now, if you look at the apps and tools you may be using regularly, you will see a few interesting similarities, which if they weren’t working would have caused them to quietly disappear. The like, share, retweet and emoji buttons are becoming ever more prevalent. They are an instant feedback loop, tapping into our motivation to be likeable or empathised with. All social media is inviting you to share more and originally most people did, now I would say it is more redacted or edited to look glossy.
Recommendation engines bring us some more peer feedback, people that bought this book also bought these. Based on your previous buying behaviour you may also like these. These recommendations are tapping into our curiosity. In our learning gamification work, the most popular courses, tend to be the ones the manager took and raves about and books they recommend.
In question forums, upvoting of answers which may or may not earn the original answer giver kudos or status of some kind, work to weed out poor answers. Earning status points happens across loyalty programs and are as useful as the perceived benefits of levelling up in status. For example, earning top status in a coding topic on stack overflow, may enhance your career or gig options and have tangible benefits. In airline example, getting on board quicker may be good enough for some, but not important to others. The more it appeals to the users in question, the better the chances of it sticking and driving behaviour.
If these nudges are implemented with clear goals and ethical objectives for the users to have a better experience, then I see it as a positive. Does gamification work, well if you believe me and the social networks and others mentioned above, then I would give it a resoundingly positive answer.