Life’s a game.
are you winning or losing?
It’s all in how you play!
Gamification is a buzz word today. Advertisers and educators are using gamification to capture the attention of their audience in an interactive way. It sounds fancy, but trust me, any parent who’s made a game of cleaning up their kid’s messy bedroom has gamified one of life’s unpleasant chores.
Gamification is nothing more than turning an event, process, or task into a game.
To gamify something, you simply need an action required (cleaning your room) and a reward (money, cookies, a trip to the zoo). It can be very simple in nature or extremely layered and complex. This basic concept is used to get people to complete a task, buy a product, become a loyal customer, share information, and so much more. Why is gamifying something so successful? Let’s take a trip back in time…
Think of some of your early childhood games. They had basic rules and clear rewards. As you got older the games got more difficult. Remember Monopoly?
Perhaps the ultimate games are online. While these are very complex, socially interactive and virtually reality based games, they still rely on actions and rewards. Advertisers and educators have jumped onto the popularity of these games and used the concepts to keep users engaged and compliant with the outcome (sales or learning).
Since childhood, most of us have learned to play games. It’s a familiar cognitive experience and my well be a universal action within the brain. Yes; our ancestors probably played games in their caves with pterodactyl bones and seashells!
Being engaged is not just a one size fits all. There are four basic types of game players. Each one plays and responds to different rewards and actions.
This type of player wants to win and beat someone in the process. It’s them against others and they respond to being king of the hill.
This person likes to explore the game. They are interested in finding the secrets and special rewards that other players may not know about. They like puzzles and are interested in learning about the virtual environment
Winning is the goal for the achiever. Status such as leader boards, where their name is on top, is a huge motivator. They like to get there first and have the most of anything other gamers are gathering or using.
These are just brief descriptions of each type. Interestingly, most of us will fall into several categories. Often players are a blend of several types with one or more dominating the “type” category.
These are important clues in setting up the rules of the game. Finding the sweet spot between actions and rewards keep people playing. If the game is too hard, or not rewarding enough, people will become disengaged.
Don’t think you’re a gamer?
Before you declare yourself to be a non-gamer, think about the following:
Pay attention to your daily activities and you will find almost everywhere you turn you are being engaged through a gaming technique.
Education and Gamifying
Educators are recognizing that children today (that’s pre-K through college) have been raised on video and online games. These kids are hard wired to the “task and reward” system and take to it naturally. In putting learning goals into an action and reward system, the teachers are engaging the children in a familiar format. The children are motivated and their attention is more focused as they learn in an exciting and dynamic environment. Most games are multitasking in nature which digital natives find comfortable and familiar.
Why so many games for adults?
Commercials have long been the standard for marketing products. Consumers in the digital world of multiplatform communications, have learned to avoid or ignore traditional commercials that pop up everywhere. In attempting to engage the audience, media is using interactivity instead of one way, mass communication. If an audience feels engaged, empowered and happy, they’ll pay attention. Happy? Did I mention game playing releases the hormone Dopamine. It’s the “feel good” hormone that gives us a sense of pleasure. Yes indeed, the advertisers know exactly what they’re doing… Attempt the challenge, make the win and receive the reward. Anyone a coupon addict? DING! You’ve been Gamified!