What is it that compels people to use foursquare to "check-in" to their local Starbucks? Is it to hopefully earn a dollar off their cup of coffee? Sure, that dollar off is nice, but is there a deeper psychological reason? The answer is yes, people want recognition. The technique to this process has become quite the new buzz word...Gamification.
Using game mechanics
Gamification uses game mechanics to get people engaged in tasks that are of "non-game context." In the foursquare example the game mechanic is a status based system. Users of foursquare are given "badges" for checking in. A user simply selects a button on their phone or tablet to confirm they have checked in. If a user checks into a certain place (For example Starbucks) more than anyone else, the user becomes mayor of that place. The users compete to have the mayor status, and recognition by their peers. A healthy non-threatening competition has been created as users attempt to check in more times than anyone else. Additionally, Starbucks has marketed their product over a social media platform for a mere dollar.
Points, achievements, badges, and leaderboards in the workplace
This is just one way gamification is used, but what about using gamification in the workplace? Can it be used to get employees motivated to complete tasks in a more sufficient manner? Can it get people to put forth extra effort on a project? If done correctly, it absolutely can. By offering points, achievements, badges, and leaderboards toward behaviors and tasks desired by a company, gamification can create a fun playful culture. Take for example Microsoft. They use gamification by creating a social media platform (Channel 9), to broadcast achievement badges earned by developers creating code using Microsoft Visual Studio. These achievements are put on a leader board, which creates a fun competitive culture amongst the developers. Writing code can be lonely and unnoticed, but by introducing gamification to this arena, it creates a fun atmosphere that allows the developers to show off their talents.
Gamification is not the "be all end all" solution to engage people, but with a 141% increase of people in the United States who play video games since 2008, according to Parks Associates , it looks as though an interest in playing games is not going away.