Tuesday Mar 04, 2014

Creating Community with Gamification

Here's an interesting problem that comes up in companies all the time.  As your company grows, how do you keep the feeling it had when it was smaller and everyone knew everyone? 

A few years ago, Oracle opened a Mexico Development Center (MDC) in Guadalajara.  At the beginning, it was only 20 people, so it was easy to get to know everyone and there was a very tight community feel to the group.  But now it's in the hundreds and people on 6 floors.  So the GM there started thinking about how they could come up with a way to try to help everyone get to know everyone else.  And of course because it's a development center with a lot of talented developers, they came up with a dev solution.

First they thought about the goals they had.  When there were 20 people, it was easy to know all 20 and something about them.  But as time went on, you might only know the people on your immediate team and some of the people on your floor.  As things expanded onto multiple floors, you might only know a few people outside the floor you work on and maybe not even much about all the different teams currently working in MDC.  Could they create an app that would allow new people to meet the whole MDC team, from individuals to all the teams and projects that are happening within the larger organization?  Welcome to the FaceGame!

FaceGame Home

The FaceGame is a fun way to introduce new people and learn about the people that they work with.  It has some fairly straightforward mechanics (we'll show you a person, you figure out who they are--and then you get to see some information about them). 

QuestionWrong Answer

Initially, the game only asks you about your immediate team.  But as you get better, you level up and start getting asked about people on your floor.  Once you master the people on your floor, it starts asking you about people on other floors.  And recently, to spark up the team competition, they even added things like an inter-floor competition.

The app has been a great way to meet new people and learn about different teams, taking a large organization and making it more manageable.  Strictly speaking, this isn't gamification, it's a game.  But the same idea could be used in a training application, to gamify the training process.  Let's say you work retail and need to know details about your inventory--welcome to the Bedding Department Game!  Or you are training new mechanics to know the various parts of the vehicles they work on--welcome to the Automotive Parts Department Game!  And in the end, it's fun.

Meet the Team

Thursday Dec 05, 2013

Gartner Hype Cycles

Today I was looking at the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies to see where they currently position Gamification.  The latest Hype Cycle has moved to the tippy top of the expectations curve.

 A little history...  In 2010, Gartner didn't even include gamification in the Hype Cycle, so it hadn't even registered on the Technology Trigger end of the cycle.

2010 Gartner Hype Cycle

(source Gartner.com)

 Gartner describes the Hype Cycles this way:

"Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies" targets strategic planning, innovation and emerging technology professionals by highlighting a set of technologies that will have broad-ranging impact across the business. It is the broadest aggregate Gartner Hype Cycle, featuring technologies that are the focus of attention because of particularly high levels of hype, or those that may not be broadly acknowledged but that Gartner believes have the potential for significant impact."

Jackie Fenn, vice president and Gartner fellow

By 2011, however, the Hype Cycle not only included Gamification, but jumped it up past the Technology Trigger and just into the space of the Peak of Inflated Expectations and predicted it was 5-10 years from mainstream adoption.

2011 Gartner Hype Cycle

(source Gartner.com)

 In 2012, the story was about the same. Gamification sat on the same place on the curve, still projected to be 5-10 years from mainstream adoption.

2012 Gartner Hype Cycle

(source http://www.forbes.com/sites/gartnergroup/2012/09/18/key-trends-to-watch-in-gartner-2012-emerging-technologies-hype-cycle-2/)

It wasn't at it's peak, but it hadn't started to hit the Trough of Disillusionment where:

"Technologies and related startups ... fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic."(http://www.businessinsider.com/great-startups-sell-around-gartner-hype-predictions-2013-4)

 So what's the status for 2013?  Now gamification is at the very top of the Peak of Inflated Expectations.

2013 Gartner Hype Cycle

(source http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2575515)

It's still seen as 5-10 years out from its plateau, but also dangerously close to the Trough of Disillusionment. Perhaps accordingly, I've seen more and more effort to move away from the term "gamification" in the enterprise space, and instead focus on terms like employee engagement and motivation.  More companies are trying to focus less on the splash of gamification and more on the idea of what successful gamification *does*.  Executives might argue that gamification sounds like we are trivializing enterprise software, but who is going to argue against more engaged and motivated employees?

It will be interesting to see where Gartner will put this next year, and if those of us interested in gamification can avoid that trough of disillusionment within our organizations.

Friday Oct 25, 2013

Gamification = -10#/3mo

One of the purposes of gamification of anything is to see if you can modify the behavior of the user. In the enterprise, that might mean getting sales people to enter more information into a CRM system, encouraging employees to update their HR records, motivating people to participate in forums and discussions, or process invoices more quickly.  Wikipedia defines behavior modification as "the traditional term for the use of empirically demonstrated behavior change techniques to increase or decrease the frequency of behaviors, such as altering an individual's behaviors and reactions to stimuli through positive and negative reinforcement of adaptive behavior and/or the reduction of behavior through its extinction, punishment and/or satiation."  Gamification is just a way to modify someone's behavior using game mechanics. And the magic question is always whether it works.

So I thought I would present my own little experiment from the last few months.  This spring, I upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy 4.  It's a pretty sweet phone in many ways, but one of the little extras I discovered was a built in app called S Health. S Health is an app that you can use to track calories, weight, exercise and it has a built in pedometer. I looked at it when I got the phone, but assumed you had to turn it on to use it so I didn't look at it much.  But sometime in July, I realized that in fact, it just ran in the background and was quietly tracking my steps, with a goal of 10,000 per day.  10,000 steps per day is this magic number recommended by the Surgeon General and the American Heart Association.  Dr. Oz pushes it as the goal for daily exercise.  It's about 5 miles of walking.

I'm generally not the kind of person who always has my phone with me.  I leave it in my purse and pull it out when I need it.  But then I realized that meant I wasn't getting a good measure of my steps.  I decided to do a little experiment, and carry it with me as much as possible for a week.  That's when I discovered the gamification that changed my life over the last 3 months.  When I hit 10,000 steps, the app jingled out a little "success!" tune and I got a badge.  I was hooked. 

I started carrying my phone.  I started making sure I had shoes I could walk in with me.  I started walking at lunch time, because I realized how often I sat at my desk for 8-10 hours every day without moving.  I started pestering my husband to walk with me after work because I hadn't hit my 10,000 yet, leading him at one point to say "I'm not as much a slave to that badge as you are!"  I started looking at parking lots differently.  Can't get a space up close?  No worries, just that many steps toward my 10,000.  I even tried to see if there was a second power user level at 15,000 or 20,000 (*sadly, no).  If I was close at the end of the day, I have done laps around my house until I got my badge.  I have walked around the block one more time to get my badge.  I have mentally chastised myself when I forgot to put my phone in my pocket because I don't know how many steps I got.  The badge below I got when my boss and I were in New York City and we walked around the block of our hotel just to watch the badge pop up.

Walking Badge

There are a bunch of tools out on the market now that have similar ideas for helping you to track your exercise, make it social.  There are apps (my favorite is still Zombies, Run!).  You could buy a FitBit or UP by Jawbone.   Interactive fitness makes the Expresso stationary bike with built in video games.  All designed to help you be more aware of your activity and keep you engaged and motivated.  And the idea is to help you change your behavior. I know someone who would spend extra time and work hard on the Expresso because he had built up strategies for how to kill the most dragons while he was riding to get more points.  When the machine broke down, he didn't ride a different bike because it just wasn't that interesting.

But for me, just the simple jingle and badge have been all I needed.  I admit, I still giggle gleefully when I hear the tune sing out from my pocket. After a few weeks, I noticed I had dropped a few pounds.  Not a lot, just 2-3.  But then I was really hooked.  I started making a point both to eat a little less and hit 10,000 steps as much as I could.  I bemoaned that during the floods in Boulder, I wasn't hitting my 10,000 steps.  And now, a few months later, I'm almost 10 lbs lighter.

All for 1 badge a day.

So yes, simple gamification can increase motivation and engagement.  And that can lead to changes in behavior.  Now the job is to apply that to the enterprise space in a meaningful and engaging way. 

Tuesday Oct 01, 2013

Gamification of Disaster Recovery?

For the last few weeks, I've had the title of this blog floating through my head, thinking about how I might work that into a blog post.  The reason stems from recent events where I live, Boulder CO.  For those of you who don't follow the news, Boulder was hit by what has been called a 1000 year rain and a 100 year flood.  We got more rain in about 2.5 days than we usually get in a full year.  We more than doubled the previous record for the most rain in a single month--more than 18".  And here's the thing, when that much water comes down in a short period of time, the creek floods.  A lot. The sewer system backs up.  You suddenly are forced to remember high school chemistry/biology lessons on osmosis, when the water pressure in the ground makes the concrete in your basement into a sieve and water starts forcing itself in.

There are a lot of photos in the article linked to above, but here are a few that I took.  The first shows the flood waters raging in the creek, and a park bench on which part of a tree came to rest.

Boulder Creek after the worst of the flooding

This next one shows some ripped out trees, but also the blue-green post in the background on the right is a flood monument.  The lowest bar is a 50 year flood, the next one up is the 100 year mark, which shows how high the water got at its peak.  Above that is the 500 year flood and above that even, the Big Thompson Flood.  In the case of the Big Thompson, the amount of rain we got in a few days hit in a few hours.

Boulder Creek by the Flood Monument

In my own neighborhood, which isn't in a flood plain and not near Boulder Creek, there was some pretty spectacular flooding.  This picture shows the effects on a fence and a car that got carried down a street and slammed into a fence.  Somewhat ironically, the car came to rest under a sign that says "cash 4 junk cars".

Boulder High Softball field Flood-carried car

After the flooding ends, there's the recovery period.  This was a common site in my neighborhood, huge piles of wet carpet, drywall and ruined furnishings.  My neighborhood got lucky, relatively speaking.  A neighborhood away had a sewage block and had raw sewage spewing into houses.  Other neighborhoods had mudslides.  Towns nearby were cut in half or have had their only road access cut off.  But the bummer is that a lot of people discovered that their insurance wasn't going to cover the damage because they didn't live in a flood plain, so they didn't have flood insurance.  Or they had damage caused by something other than flooding, but since flooding was the cause of the other events (rockslides and mudslides), it wasn't covered.

Flooded contents of a house

So what's this got to do with Gamification?  In an earlier post, I talked about gamification of blood donation.  And I keep thinking that I wonder how gamification could be applied to disaster recovery.  Not sure people would like getting badges for the most destroyed contents of their house or biggest FEMA check or numbers of trips to the dump (we rented a truck and made 6, hauling our stuff and helping friends and neighbors with theirs), but maybe you could gamify volunteer opportunities?  As is typical for flooding and other disasters, some folks get hit and others don't.  Those that don't often want to get out there to do something to help, but aren't sure what to do.

I was talking to a volunteer coordinator for Community Food Share and he was saying that he was getting tons of calls from people who wanted to help.  So many that he didn't have enough work lined up that he could bring volunteers in for--but that it was too bad not to be able to point them to something they could do.  Maybe a system could gamify connecting people to volunteer opportunities in their areas?  Could social networks help connect individuals to other individuals who needed something?  I keep thinking about how I would define the business objectives here, and how gamification could move people from the kind-of-thinking-about-helping to actually-helping.  One problem is knowing what you could do, the other is connecting you to the opportunity.  So it's sort of an onboarding task, you come into the system and it helps you navigate and participate.

Another possibility would be getting people signed up with FEMA.  I was trying to walk my reasonably tech-savvy 83-year old neighbor through signing up with FEMA's website, http://www.disasterassistance.gov/  and kept thinking that it could benefit from some game mechanics for feedback, progress and achievement (that aside, kudos to FEMA--they got out fast, the people were really heldful and cut checks really quickly).

These are only half-baked ideas, but when I was discussing the notion of gamification and blood donation with @benserviss, @daverage and @gamificationco, I could see a lot of potential there.  Maybe there's a way to create something meaningful for the next disaster and its community...

Any thoughts?

Friday Aug 30, 2013

Gamification book review

Earlier this summer, I was asked to review a new book on Gamification put out by Janaki Kumar and Mario Herger called Gamification at Work, put out by the Interaction Design Foundation.  As you can image, I've read a lot of these but I would really recommend taking a look at this one if you are interested in gamification and how it can be used in business software.  One of the key reasons is simple, while other books I have read tend to focus on the game mechanics, Kumar and Herger put more focus on the user of the systems.

Gamification at Work book jacket

To me, that's what's been missing from a lot of the books I have read.  Many of them are very focused on the mechanics themselves, but spend very little time on understanding who your users are.  While that might be ok for a consumer site, where the audience may be very broad and not easily defined, in business software, it's pretty essential to understand who is using your software and what motivates them before slapping on points and badges.  If you apply game mechanics badly, as I have said before, you can alienate your users.  That's pretty risky when you are talking about the software that runs your business--do you want to take a chance that your users are so put off by your attempts at sloppy gamification that they don't want to use that software? 

Kumar and Herger, instead, spend a good deal of the book talking about how they would define and understand users before coming to a decision about how to add gamification to the software.  I think this is a critical change between this offering and others.  *One exception to Andrzej Marczewski (@daverage), who writes a very useful blog and has spent a lot of time looking at how to define user types.  They describe the need to do research into your users and develop a persona to help understand what kind of users you are developing for.  Coming from the usability side of software development, I think that's great.

My only wish for this book was that they went just a little further into how you move from the specific users to the specific mechanics, but that's a leap I haven't seen anywhere yet.  In fact, it's one we're working on now, since we're developing a set of Gamification Guidelines for Enterprise applications that we are hoping to roll out very soon.  It's not an easy question (or I'd have finished it a long time ago!) so I can see how it's been missing from most of the offerings out there.

Tuesday Jul 09, 2013

Birds of a Feather meet up at Oracle

Yesterday we held one of our first Birds of a Feather Gamification events at Oracle.  It was a terrific event with folks from all different areas of Oracle participating, sharing their experiences, planning and ending with a design jam exercise.

Birds of a Feather Announcement banner

 My thanks to Jenny Tsai-Smith for organizing and sponsoring this event.  We were able to get a big group in person and another 30 people who attended remotely.  Marta Rauch and I led some of the activities with the help of Nick Ristuccia, which was great, because due to runway shutdowns at SFO, my flight was canceled and I couldn't get to HQ!  It was the first time I've tried to run a design jam (see more on our design jams) remotely, but Marta and Nick managed to pull off the local details.  It was great to hear the excitement even if I couldn't be there in person for the event. 

So what's next?  Well, we're working on a directory of groups at Oracle working on gamification and planning the next Birds of a Feather event already since there was so much interesting in meeting again.  Are you at Oracle and working on gamification or thinking about it?  Let me know and we'll try to get you on the list and into the directory. 

We have a couple of conversations in OSN for internal Oracle folks (sorry folks, not open to people who aren't at Oracle).  Please check them out as well!  The Birds of a Feather conversation has details from yesterday's event, while we also have a conversation on Gamification at Oracle on both the Early Adopters and the larger OSN.  I just moved content to the OSN site, so let me know if you have any trouble accessing any of these conversations. 

Lots of buzz and excitement building!

Thursday Jun 13, 2013

Gamification @ Work at CHI

At the end of April, I participated in a panel discussion of Gamification@Work at the CHI conference in Paris.  The panel had a bunch of great folks--Mac Smith from Google, Janaki Kumar from SAP, Scott Schnars from Badgeville and Sebastien Deterding.  There's a LinkedIn conversation with some of the questions and presentations here

I noticed a lot of interest in anything related to game design or gamification at CHI this year.  Our session was standing room only--the photo below was before we even started--it got more crowded into the actual session time.  The questions were great and we even had a little debate about whether you could gamify something you cannot measure (I say no, but I also think there are plenty of things you can find a way to measure if you are determined to).  It's encouraging to see so much interested in the area from Usability and Interaction Design professionals.

Tuesday Jun 11, 2013

Dopamine and gamification

It's been a bit crazy in the gamification world with GSummit and CHI coming one after the other, but I'm back and have been meaning to post on a topic that came up again and again at the GSummit.  So often, in fact, that I started to think of the old drinking game Hi Bob because people were saying dopamine in practically every talk.  It's funny to me, because my degree is in Cognitive Neuropsychology and as part of my qualifying exams, I had to map out the entire dopaminergic system.  In fact, I might still have the notecards I drew out to study from in my garage someplace. Dopamine (and really all neurotransmitters involved in behavior)  is a topic I studied a lot.

For those of you who aren't following why dopamine kept coming up at the GSummit, here's a little background.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or the chemical juice that lets one neuron (nerve) talk to another.  The neurotransmitters break down into a set of categories, usually based on their chemical structure.  The most common groupings are the amino acids (like glutamate, which is not the same as monosodium glutamate, but that's someone else's blog), peptides (like Substance P, a very science fiction-y name) and monoamines (like dopamine, histamine, and serotonin).  Here's a lovely set of dopamine molecule earrings from our friend at madewithmolecules.com:

The brain, and the body in general for that matter, is fairly parsimonious with neurotransmitters and the same neurotransmitter might be involved in multiple very different systems.  Dopamine is a prime example--it's the main neurotransmitter of the motor system (loss of neurons in the nigrostriatal pathway is the primary problem in Parkinson's disease) but it's also one of the main neurotransmitters of the mesolimbic system (the other is serotonin).  The mesolimbic system is sometimes described as a "reward" pathway, which is why it kept coming up at the GSummit.

Why is dopamine maybe involved in reward?  Well, that's an interesting question. Back in the 1950's, a couple of researchers (Olds and Milner) decided to see what would happen if the electrically stimulated a region of the brain in the mesolimbic system called the nucleus accumbens when a rat went into a certain region of their cages.  Turns out, rats liked it.  They liked it a lot.  So much that when the experiment was adjusted so that they could press a lever to get the little zip of electricity, they'd do it as much as 1700 times an hour.  And the nucleus accumbens is one of the structures in the mesolimbic system that uses dopamine to communicate.  Initially, this area was described as a reward center and dopamine was hypothesized to be the neurotransmitter of pleasure. More evidence came from the discoveries that dopamine levels increase in the brain when addicts take drugs like opiates, cocaine and amphetamines.  When dopamine is blocked in the brain by 99%, rats stop eating, which led researchers to hypothesize that they no longer derived any pleasure from eating.

But of course, nothing's ever quite that simple in neuroscience.  Further research on the rats who had all their dopamine suppressed concluded that it wasn't that the rats didn't take pleasure in eating, it was just that they had no desire to eat on their own.  If they pushed food on the rats, they concluded that they seemed to show pleasure while eating (though how they conclude that sort of escapes me) but that left to their own devices, they simply wouldn't eat.  They had lost the motivation to initiate eating. 

"Dopamine-depleted rats still ‘like’ rewards, and still know the rewards they ‘like’. They simply fail to ‘want’ rewards they ‘like’."

Berridge and Robinson, 1998

Further experiments with people confirmed the idea that dopamine might not be about pleasure and reward as much as it created a wanting or motivation to keep seeking out stimulation. There is some evidence that dopamine levels increase when a reward is greater than expected, which then is hypothesized to increase drive or motivation to achieve a reward.  Lack of dopamine meant there was no motivation or drive to do something.

So the role of dopamine might not be in pleasure/reward after all but in motivation and drive.  Still pretty important issues for gamification, just maybe not in the way some folks might have thought.

Tuesday Apr 16, 2013

Ready for the GSummit?

Well, Mother Nature made a valiant effort to get in the way of my trip to the GSummit this week, dumping 14 inches of snow on Boulder yesterday.  But I did make it and I'm looking forward to all the great talks and events that will be happening this week.  There are some great speakers this year and I'm hoping to post some updates here once I've gotten to see some of them. I'll be speaking on Thursday on how to get gamification into your organization.

Are you going to be there?  Tweet me @GamifyOracle and let me know--it would be great to say hi in person!

Tuesday Apr 02, 2013

Going to CHI?

Anyone out there going to CHI?  It's the Computer Human Interaction conference and this year, it's being held in Paris from April 27-May 2.  I'll be there, participating in a panel session on Gamification @ Work, with Janaki Kumar, Mario Herger, Sebastian Deterding, Scott Schnaars, and Matt Landes.  CHI now asks participants to create short videos as teasers for their sessions, and we put together 2 different versions.  So here's a little gamification for you--let's have a contest and you all tell me which one wins!

The Salt & Pepper video 


The Spinner video.

Friday Feb 22, 2013

GSummit Interview

Last night, the Apps Lab did a shout out to this blog, and showing that I am easily response driven, I started thinking that I really needed to get a new blog piece together.  The last few weeks have been pretty swamped with some not terribly exciting back end gamification issues about getting some products into development as well as a lot of non-gamification work.  But then today the GSummit folks helped me along by posting an interview that I did at the GSummit last year. 

In the coming weeks and months, my team will be working on the creation of some gamification guidelines and patterns, and I hope to share what we are working on then.  In the meantime, here's a link to last year's interview!  I'll be speaking there again this year--let me know if you'll be there.  I'd love to meet you in person.  Plus, it's on my birthday so I'll have a badge for anyone who remembers...

Wednesday Feb 06, 2013

Blood donation, green badge

In my last blog post, I talked about the gamification of blood donation.  Just thought I'd follow up since today I earned the green badge, er, bandage today.  Funny thing, it made me late for a gamification conference call.  Bonfils doesn't offer points or a virtual economy (although a friend of mine recently got a pretty nice messenger bag) but I did get some bottled water, trail mix and cheez-its, so there is that.

Blood donation

I'm still not sure that the addition of a virtual economy would get me to donate more often (not having to reschedule every time a new meeting was added to my calendar might work better than that). But then again, the concept of gamification of blood donation got me to sign up, update my profile on the donor site and actually go.  And they matched my bandage to my bangles.

Friday Jan 04, 2013

Adding Gamification into the Oracle User Experience

I just remembered that over the break, an article I wrote for our UsableApps site came out.  Thought I'd go ahead and cross post it here.

Different uses of gamfication

Yesterday I found an interesting blog piece by Ben Serviss (@benserviss) on how gamification might be used to increase blood donations.  This lead to a twitter conversation between me, @benserviss, @daverage and @gamificationco about a) whether this would work and b) what the issues are in blood donation.

I should disclose I'm a nearly 3 gallon donor at this point.   Bonfils Blood Bank has me on speed dial because I am O-, the universal donor.   But I haven't given recently.   It's not that I care about needles much.  I'm a phlebotomist's dream, pale skin, bright blue veins that are easy to hit.  However, giving is a little inconvenient.  I need to make an appointment, plan on the travel to the blood bank, spend about an hour, etc.  Because I travel a lot, I have to review all the places that might knock me off the list.  More than once, I've had to take a year break from giving because I traveled to India.  I have some altrustic motivation since I know they can always use my blood type, people are in need, there aren't enough donors, etc.  But sometimes I need a little more push to actually go.  And I'm not really the problem because I do go.  What about the people who have never given blood but who could?

Bonfils Blood Center logo

Bonfils Blood Center

 As Serviss points out:

"Meanwhile, the American Red Cross states that less than 38 percent of the US population is eligible to donate blood, which comes out to roughly 119 million people given the current US population of 315 million. Of those eligible, only 9.5 million donate in a given year, which leaves us with about 109 million people who are eligible to donate, but don’t."

So it seems like there are two problems.  The first is really an onboarding problem.  How do you get people past the initial hump of giving in the first place?  Most first time donors, in my experience at the blood bank over the years, will say in a surprised tone "that wasn't bad at all!"  They may have overcome initial resistance because of some event, and then were surprised that it wasn't a horrible experience.  So how could we convince more people to walk through the door?  If your intrinsic motivation isn't that high for blood donation, could we layer on some extrinsic motivation?  Come in and win! This might include t-shirts, blankets, hats, and other logo items, but can go as far as winning a $1000 shopping spree, as the American Red Cross offered in 2008 in their "Give a little, Get a lot" program. 

The second problem is once you give, how could we get you to give again?  According to the World Health Organization, out of 92 million blood donations annually, 30 million give blood once and then never come again.   Blood banks are already trying ways to gamify blood donation.  Many now have rewards programs much like cash back programs on credit cards. Give regularly, get points you can cash in for merchandise or event tickets.  In one twitter conversation, @gamificationco said that his Dad gives for points that he redeems for Mets tickets!  Perhaps this is a way to get that first time donor converted to a repeat donor?

That said, the National Institutes of Health have raised concerns about these incentive programs.   Mirroring other studies on the effects of reward on intrinsic motivation, they cite a Swedish study that concluded that a monetary incentive decreased the supply of blood donors by 50% and another study, that offering monetary rewards can decrease the safety of the blood supply.  However, an Italian study offered a day off of work or what amounts to badges and concluded those rewards increased the frequency of donation.  Just goes to show, it matters what incentives you offer...

I'm going online to book my next donation now.  Maybe that's a social incentive, since I've put it out there that I will give?  It doesn't look like my local blood bank offers a rewards program. 

But there are cookies!

Friday Dec 21, 2012

Moving gamification from concept to design

In the last few months, the UX team has been busy--very busy--working on gamification of a few key enterprise flows.  And the process we've been following is one of the reasons I think we aren't going to fall into the trap that Gartner described in their recent report on gamification.  In that report, Gartner predicts that by 2014, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily because of poor design. 


And I'm guessing that's a pretty reasonable prediction.  Part of the reason for that is that many companies are gamifying applications because it's the hot thing to do and they aren't thinking about why they should gamify those applications.  In our user experience group, we are regularly reviewing some key points about gamification.  First and foremost, you need to start with a business objective.  What are you trying to get people to do differently?  Why are you trying to get them to change?  Can you measure whether or not you are, in fact, changing the behavior you want to change with game mechanics?  And are you willing to redesign if it turns out your gamification design isn't effective?

A good portion of gamification, in my estimation, is just effective usability made more transparent to the user.  For example, in usability, we know that people want feedback--they want to know what to do and then they want feedback that they are doing it right, that things are progressing, that they are successful.  Good usability and good gamification just make that more transparent to end users.  And end users like that.

Some gamification is a bit more complex and can drive users to activities or actions that they are less inclined to do.  But you are still using good principles of usability to get there.

So what are companies doing that makes them fail?  They aren't following a good user experience process.  In our organization, we put a lot of emphasis on testing our designs with users.  Most recently, we were testing gamified designs with potential end users at the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG)  meetings in Birmingham UK.  We presented gamified flows and the same flow without gamification and got feedback on what worked and what did not.  We use that information to revise and modify our designs, prior to coding and delivering as a product. 

Real users, testing our designs, modifying.  Then you develop.

That's the key to not ending up part of the 80%.


All things gamification, mostly focused on the Enterprise space but occasionally on other issues related to gamification. Thoughts are my own.


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