Gamification a fad or here to stay

Business trend watchlist 2012: Gamification is everywhere

The gamification trend has been on everyone's lips since fourscare at the latest. In concrete terms, this means that game-typical elements and processes are used in systems that are not part of the game. In other words, gamification is the application of game design principles and mechanics to solve problems and engage participants. This is intended, for example, to motivate people who have to do a rather monotonous job to do these tasks. This is done, among other things, by displaying high scores, rankings and progress bars as well as by awarding awards and virtual goods. Gamification is more than a gimmick. Studies have shown that gamification can significantly improve user motivation, learning success, customer loyalty, ROI or data quality.

Right, gamification is actually very old. Many of us participated in simulation games while we were studying, e.g. to learn in a playful way how to draw up a balance sheet and what effects certain decisions have on the financial status of the company. But gamification is much more than just a new word for an old trend. Computer games created completely new standards that can now be integrated into all computer and web applications with little effort. That made the positive “wildfire” possible. In the meantime, gamification in the advertising, entertainment, social media and crowdsourcing segments is almost “state of the art”. Gartner even assumes that the gamification hype will soon be over and will only become standard after a long period of disillusionment.

Why do I put the gamification trend on my watchlist this year when Gartner thinks that it will soon (be “out” for a long time? There are three reasons for this: First, we in Germany are always a bit behind, ie the hype is at its peak about one or two years ahead of us. Second, although there is soon oversaturation in some segments, gamification is conquering completely new segments, e.g. in the fitness and health sector, in school, training and further education, in e-commerce, etc. Thirdly, there are more and more startups that have made gamification the basis of their business idea and can set exciting trends in the future if they survive the phase of disillusionment or are looking for niches or areas of application in which good growth opportunities also exist in the next few years are.

One thing is clear to me. The gamification trend is unstoppable, because today's youth is almost "addicted to games". Anyone who does not manage to adapt to this in the future will have real difficulties in getting young (and sometimes older) adults enthusiastic about their company, whether as customers or employees. That's why I can only recommend anyone who is long-term oriented to deal with this trend, even if you shouldn't take every fad with you. To start with, I recommend the above video, in which Sebastian Detering is interviewed, who here in Germany deals very intensively with the phenomenon of “gamification” scientifically. If you have a little more time, you can also watch his one-hour lecture at the Republica last year (see video below). If you want to stay up to date afterwards, the English-language gamification blog is recommended.

Oh yes, the question still remains to be answered which example of gamification best practice I like best. It must be admitted that this example is almost ancient. It's Nike +. More than 5 years ago, with the help of Nike +, Nike managed to turn jogging into a playful challenge, so that I “stay on the ball” longer and develop continuously. Right, I reported about it more than 5 years ago. At that time the term gamification didn't even exist. But the example shows well how a trend arises. First there is a model for adaptation (games industry). Next there are inventors who do not make it an economic success. Then there are pioneers such as Nike. Next there is a term for this trend. Then it becomes hype. Afterwards nobody can see it anymore (still coming). And then it is impossible to imagine life without it.

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