When you think about the idea of playing games, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s children having fun outside, or maybe you imagine people playing video games or board games. In fact, if you type “playing games” into Google Images, the pictures generated are almost exclusively of these things (not surprisingly, there’s a big focus on video games).
With these images hanging around in our collective subconscious, it’s understandable why some executives might balk at the idea of introducing games into their business models in general, and incentive programs specifically.
After all, business isn’t child’s play; this is people’s livelihoods we’re talking about. So, the doubt that “gamification” is a highly effective incentive tool and not simply a fad might be valid. Is that doubt trying to convince us that by utilizing game mechanics, we’re sacrificing the seriousness of our business and the efficiency of our incentive programs?
As it turns out, this doubt is unfounded for a few reasons:
1. There’s finally some gamification data out there.
The strategy of incorporating games into non-game (i.e. business) situations has been implemented by a growing number of companies. A 2015 report put the global gamification market at $1.65 billion, with this number expected to skyrocket to over $11 billion by 2020.
It’s taken some time for research to catch up, but now we have several case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of game-based incentive solutions across industries. There’s definitely more out there, but here’s an excellent, curated list of some of the most compelling case studies.
2. Ironically, we tend to take games very seriously.
Sometimes, perhaps even too seriously, we all have that one friend... In fact, even when we’re not actually playing the games ourselves, we often find ourselves engaged in the action of the games because we’re emotionally invested in their outcomes.
In other words, games are serious to the extent that they engage us on an emotional level. If we don’t care about their results, only then will we not take the game seriously. This can easily be solved by incentivizing the games, by including some sort of compelling reward into a game’s design to get people invested in its outcome.
3. Gamification works in business because people naturally love games.
Whether or not you consider yourself a “gamer,” chances are you find pleasure and excitement in some form of gaming, be it a crossword or Sudoku puzzle, a round of Candy Crush, a pickup basketball game down at the Y, or a scratch-off lottery ticket.
The question really isn’t whether we’re into games; it’s about which types of games we like to play, and more importantly, how these games may be used and leveraged into increased business.
This is the WHY of gaming in business. Whether or not we take game-based incentives seriously (heck, the word “gamification” still shows up as misspelled in Microsoft Word), despite some healthy skepticism over the past decade, it would appear that games-as-business-tools are here to stay.
If you’re interested in HOW game mechanics can be utilized to keep your incentive program audiences engaged and motivated, check back in next week when we’ll introduce some successful game design ideas and ways that you can make these games more compelling in your programs at large.
Want to know about gamification and how it can work for you? Contact HMI at [email protected] or 888.220.4780