What is Gamification? Learn with Examples from IT, Education and Learning Fields

Gamification: A Prominent Key for Success in Various Aspects of Life

A complete overview of Gamification and its impact in different walks of life including the Agile Process that we testers and developers follow in our day-to-day work.

What is gamification? Let’s learn its meaning:

The main purpose of Gamification is to combine work with fun. Any non-game context can be made more appealing, by applying Gamification to it. In simple words ‘Gamification’ means integration of the existing environment with the game mechanics. 

Basically, it is adopting the key elements of games like designing, action or activity, fun, and competition, and then applying them through game mechanics such as points, badges, and leaderboard.

Gamification

Birth and History of Gamification

The following is an extract from Dan’s whitepaper: Gamification in e-learning

birth of gamification

The Gamification era is supposed to be started in the year 1912.

American Cracker Jack’, a popcorn brand, had introduced Gamification first to the market. The company included a free reward in every bag. It was not authentic ‘Gamification’ in a real sense, but it was regarded as the beginning of ‘Gamification’.

1980’s: Books related to ‘Gamification’ were published and those include:

1990 to 2002:

Advanced ‘Gamification’ techniques were introduced to the students through computers in the classrooms. ‘Math Blaster’ and ‘The Incredible Machine’ games gained student’s interest. These games faced a lot of criticism, as it was said they didn’t focus on curriculum instead they only focused on repetitive practice skills for ‘addition’ and ‘subtraction’.

SGI (Serious Games Initiative) was the sincere attempt by the US Military for the creation of games.

The SGI attempted to achieve its objective to assist in the new series implementation of policy education, exploration, and management tools. It concentrated on making effective use of the state of the art computer game designs, technologies, and development skills.

2003 to 2004:

Conundra was the first Gamification firm which gamified the consumer products and offered incorporated gamified enterprise, however, the company did not last for long.

The Games for Change (G4C), making a social impact through games, was launched in the market. ‘Peacemaker’, a game on Arab-Israeli conflict, was the most famous game by G4C to show the difficulties faced by both the countries, and thus inform players about the social issues faced by commoners.

2007 to 2010

The most famous Gamification tool for enterprises, ‘Bunchball’, was introduced. This was the first ever company that rendered a gamified platform for the organizations. It provided readily available elements such as points, leaderboards, and badges.

The internet boost gave a great kick-start to Gamification. DICE (Design Innovate Communicate Entertain) conferences published videos on ‘Gamification’ that went viral, leading to the increased interest in the term.

In 2011

The key points in 2011 for the progress of Gamification were:

  • Gamification summit was held in San Francisco for the 1st time which attracted over 400 attendees.
  • Oxford dictionary added Gamification to its ‘word of the year shortlist’.
  • Corporate Gamification took off with a boom.
  • Global revenue gained from marketing, software and consulting was whopping $100 million.

Since 2011, Gamification is growing rapidly. Dedicated Gamification conferences are organized, books are published and researches are held each year for Gamification. More and more organizations keep on experimenting with its different techniques, but the opinion for its real effectiveness is still largely divided.

Note: The Whitepaper link in no more available.

Why Gamification?

The idea of Gamification is adding challenges, engaging games, and trivia for the users of any application.

This will help with:

  • Better user engagement
  • Goal Setting
  • Increasing Skills
  • Challenging Environment
  • Target Achievements
  • Rewards and Recognition
  • Finally – Accomplishing ORGANIZATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY

Gamification

#1) Better User Engagement:

Two challenges need to be tackled when Gamification is introduced:

  1. Giving the user something that is beneficial to them and thus keeping the user engaged.
  2. The engagement should be interesting enough so that they will continue using and interacting with it.

#2) Goal Setting:

Introducing Gamification to Goal setting can help a lot in achieving the goal. The Gamification designer should be well familiar with S.M.A.R.T concept. The goal setting should be based on the S.M.A.R.T concept, so that it will be easy to design and the purpose of Gamification will get achieved.

S.M.A.R.T acronym –

Specific: Goal should be clear, that’s the most important thing for Gamification. The questions “Who, What, Why, Where” need to be answered here.

Example:

Hotel Booking App: Goal of an employee assisting customers for hotel booking.

Specific Goal: I should be able to convince the potential customers for room bookings.

Measurable: I must be able to get confirmed bookings from the customers: One Suite room booking and two regular room bookings.

Attainable: The goal should be realistic and achievable. I must be able to get confirmed bookings for all the 20 Suites rooms available. This can’t be achieved as long as the hotel is booked for a wedding function or a giant official conference or for that matter a cricket team is staying at the hotel.

Relevant: What does the goal set mean to you? Is it quite relevant for you? If you don’t prefer talking much then how will you develop convincing skills to get confirmations for hotel bookings?

Time-Bound: By when to achieve the goal set.

I must be able to get confirmed bookings from the customers: One Suite room booking and two regular room bookings by EOD (end of the day) or in the period of 3 days. Whatever the goal set, it must be time-bound. A time-bound goal gives you a fixed period to achieve it. Goals set to a closer time period are easier to visualize and work upon.

Gamification helps to incorporate all these S.M.A.R.T concepts for goal setting in a fun way and thus make it enjoyable.

#3) Increasing Skills:

At the organization level, you need to keep on improving your skills, to be at par with others. But in the day to day environment, learning new skills are vital but the motivational factor is a very low key affair. Gamification can come to the rescue in such situations.

Example: At any top-level organization, teaching employees’ self-presentation skills, mannerism, behavioral skills, handling non-work related situations at a job, reacting to an undesired situation, handling complaints and un-relevant requests from the customers etc. need be taken care of other than just work-related skills.

These can be taught to the employees by designing interactive videos, where they are taught how to be presentable, how should you improve your telephone manners, table manners, call attending manners etc.

There can be situational videos where the employees are asked, ‘how they will react in an unexpected situation?’, ‘How to handle troublesome customers?’ etc.

#4) Challenging Environment:

On a day to day basis, we face various kinds of challenges like:

  • Waking up early
  • Regular exercise
  • Decided Diet Plans
  • Driving patiently through heavy traffic
  • Balancing home and work responsibilities
  • Keeping up the pace at workplace
  • Handling difficult team members
  • Facing mangers
  • Short term and Long Term Trainings
  • Maintaining client relationships

All these are routine challenges, that we face on day to day basis.

Gamification Examples

Let’s concentrate on handling Challenges by Gamification through examples.

Example:

Achieving a target: Graphic Designer needs to complete a certain magazine in a specific time period.

Work Strategy: Considering a regular office team situation:

The Graphic Designer may be handling a team of say 5 people (Junior Graphic Designers).

  1. Tasks are being broken down for each designer.
  2. The time limit is set to complete each task by each designer.
  3. Reporting the overall tasks completion by all team members.

Now let’s “Gamify” the above process:

Gamification Strategy: The same office situation as above but handling it through Gamification.

(i) Tasks broken down can be given funny names:

Task: Creating a basic layout of a design for 11 pages magazine.
Gamify: Funny Name: Magazine Matrix loaded.

(ii) Time Badges are awarded:

Time limit: 7 to 24 hours required to complete a basic layout.
Gamify: Time Badge is awarded to the teammate for completing the task in the required time limit.

Time Badges

(iii) Task completed by individual teammates can be reported/ displayed on Leader Boards.

Leader board

Thus a challenging environment can be ‘Gamified’. This gamified atmosphere in the team creates a fun and captivating workplace environment. It gives rise to healthy completion, keeping the pace of work in place and achieving targets empathetically with full enthusiasm from every individual.

The individual efforts put in for the entire tasks are also amplified to a great extent.


#5) Target Achievements:

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, says Peter Drucker (Peter Ferdinand Drucker was an Austrian-born, American management consultant, educator, and author whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation, Wikipedia).

Today’s business strategy tries to measure and manage this in a more innovative way of Gamification. Incorporating ‘Gamification’ in the workplace is a great challenge.

For a manager, to keep his employees motivated to achieve the targets requires a great deal of decision making, visualization, analysis, and implementation. Moreover, the stimulus should not get habituated, but keep on motivating in the long run.

Gamification attracts employees as it scales over the period of time. It keeps people on their toes to some extent, rather than the monotonous style of working for years together.

#6) Rewards and Recognition:

Reward or recognition is a dominant booster and motivator in any field.

E.g. Sports, IT, dance, music, architecture, technical, mechanical, etc. It increases the productivity to a great extent as effort contribution increases when noticed and appreciated too.

Still, many companies fail to take the advantage of it and fail to appreciate their employees appropriately. Lack of appreciation is a primary cause for employee’s dissatisfaction.

Furthermore these ‘Reward and Recognition’ shouldn’t be monotonous, like

  • Luring employees for free snacks or gym passes,
  • ‘Employee of the month’ plaque displayed in the lobby(which are mostly ignored ), or
  • Honoring long-time employees with a small party, for sticking around for a prolonged period, or
  • Typical standard lines with written Certificates being given out, or
  • The same type of mementos getting awarded on companies annual functions.

When designing an employee appreciation program, it is important to remember that your aim is not only just appreciating the ‘Achievements’ but also rewarding the ‘activities’ and ‘efforts’ that are put in by the employees.

If any desired behaviors and processes are displayed by an employee then that also needs to be appreciated and rewarded. This will promote the employees to adopt those behaviors and processes.

Gamification may be a solution to this lack of appreciation. Gamification can provide innovative and creative ways to improve individual and team morale, effort contribution and interest for a longer term. That, in turn, will definitely improve the overall productivity of the organization.

The ways in which Gamification can be employed for ‘Rewards and Recognition’ are:

  • Spin-a Prize wheel: It can be kept on a weekly basis for target achievements. Employees, who have achieved a target, get to spin-a-wheel and get rewarded for the efforts that they have put in for the whole week.
  • Publish success stories: Success stories of employees who have done appreciable actions.

Examples:

=> An employee who has put a lot of efforts to achieve a target or
=> An employee who has innovated the regular tasks or
=> An employee who has brought out creative ways to complete monotonous work or
=> An employee who helped the fellow employees to work towards the desired goals.

How all these were achieved and what went into it, to gain that success, can be published in company blogs or used as business cases.

It can be made as a company cultural story.

  • Awarding Reward Points: Different types of badges can be awarded. These can be awarded by peers, managers etc. to each other as a way of recognition. The employee who gets the maximum badges can be awarded reward points.
  • Payout Rewards: If employees meet the parameters set, then they can be awarded a lottery ticket at the end of the month.

The lottery ticket may be anything from:

  • Free parking lot space
  • An extra day of privilege leave
  • Family Dinner pass
  • Gift voucher
  • Paid off certificate training
  • Special Perks: Gamification vendors, to promote themselves, offer special perks to organizations.

The perks can be:

  • Free offers from reputed brands
  • Fine dining
  • Special concessions on apparels
  • Travel passes

#7) Accomplishing ORGANIZATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY:

Gamification motivates employees in multiple ways. Gamification could go a long way towards enhancing the employee’s trust and engagement.

Workplace incentive programs are improved due to the introduction of ‘Gamification’ in it. These Gamification programs provide employees with more frequent and meaningful rewards & recognition. Introducing games for incentives, rewards, and promotions is simply a way in which you can manifest and enhance your company culture.

Gamification has changed the organization in two different ways:

  • First: Internally, it has helped to gain and improve the employee’s engagement. As the employee’s engagement has improved, it has further improved the business relations with the customers. And as employees are satisfied, it results in satisfied customers.
  • Second: Externally, organizations are putting in efforts to employ Gamification tools for motivating employees, for more sales.

On the other hand, it motivates the customers for remaining loyal to brands, by engaging them in promotional activities.

Applying Gamification to Different Aspects of Life

#1) Gamification in Health Care:

Pedometer App: Helps to monitor weight loss.

  • Takes your height and weight as input.
  • Sets target for walking per week, depending upon your height and weight.
  • Counts the number of steps that you take each day.
  • Calculates the whole week’s steps taken.
  • A number of steps are synched as Kilometers that you walk each day.
  • Kilometers you walk are linked to calories you burn.
  • Calories you burn is linked to the weight you will lose.

#2) Gamification in Real Estate:

Realtor App: Real Estate and Property App

Agents

  • Authorized agents are available online and personally for help.
  • If an agent is able to invite 3 customers in a week to look around a property, he gets a badge.
  • If an agent is able to sell/ rent 3 properties in a week, he gets a special incentive.
  • If an agent sells 3 villas in a month, he gets 2 extra privilege leaves and one paid family vacation on specific days.

Clients

  • Listed properties are verified and hence avoids fraudulent cases.
  • Facility for Virtual tours of specific sites is available.
  • USA and India’s sites are listed. Hence international scope for real estate is available.
  • For huge villas in USA ‘Joyrides’ are arranged to show around the house.

#3) Gamification in Education:

Socrative: For students

  • Space race game for kids.
  • Spaceships are available in different icons.
  • Students can compete with each other by answering syllabus questions.
  • The spaceships can be raced by answering the questions that appear on the screen.
  • Different levels can be achieved by answering the questions.
  • Student’s names are displayed on leaderboards after specific levels have been achieved.
  • Healthy competition is being developed for the student himself or between the students if preferred.

Case Study

Case Study 1: Gamification in Agile Process

Industry: Information Technology

Objective: To Gamify Agile Process

  • Collect data from the project management system and populate it on dashboards. This helps the leaders to get a clear visibility of how the project and the team are progressing.
  • Every employee could benefit from data and insights.
  • Gamifying day-to-day activities would add fun and a sense of healthy competition in the team.

Summary: An app E.g: ‘AgileFocus’ can be developed.

Using the ‘AgileFocus’ app: Individuals will receive points/ badges on:

    • The number of user stories delivered within the sprint.
    • The number of code and test case review comments within the sprint.
    • Individuals with least review comments.
    • Special rewards on completion of user stories and testing ahead of the estimations.
    • Reward points for helping teammates.
    • A leaderboard will continuously be scrolled, displaying the top performing individuals.

badges

A leaderboard will be maintained, where all the individuals will be listed in a descending order of their points.

LeaderBOARD

Implementation:

  • A new tool AgileFocus’ can be added as a plug-in in JIRA (or any project management tool.)
  • Using the data from JIRA and the pre-defined rules specific to projects, the plug-in ‘AgileFocus’ will compute the points to be rewarded to each individual.
  • We can call these points as AgilePoints.
  • Employees can redeem these agile points to receive some perks/gifts.
  • Employers can use these points as pointers also for their performance evaluation (if needed).

Assumptions:

  • Project using JIRA – A project management tool.
  • Individuals are aware of the agile processes existing in the project.
  • Individuals are well educated to use the various tools in the project.

Limitations:

  • It may take a long implementation time to integrate with the other project management tools. Or configurations issues may arise.

Future Scope:

  • The app will also keep the historical data of the project performance. It will have different types of graphs to measure the project performances across sprints using this historical data.
  • Development of a new plug-in for inter-project assessment.
  • Enhancement of AgileFocus as a global product is focused on employees’ performances.
  • Addition of avatars that will possess different types of powers. These avatars will evolve after a certain amount of points.
  • Integration with social media platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Implementation of ‘Generic Challenges’ framework. In this, leads/managers will create some challenges and the employees can register for them. A few examples could be,
  • Automation of some daily routine task which saves time for all.
  • Clear some technical certification.
  • Document some functionality.
  • Blog writing etc.

Conclusion

Gamifying daily tasks will motivate employees to follow agile practices diligently. Employees will have a clear understanding of their tasks using AgileFocus.

This will, in turn, create a positive impact on the project deliverables. Leaderboards with rewards will contribute to healthy competition. Employees will monitor their own progress and strive to do their best in their day-to-day activities.

Do you have few more interesting facts on Gamification to be added on to this tutorial? Feel free to express your thoughts in the comments section below!!





2 comments ↓

#1 Ahmed Fathi Elgaly

It is a mean of get more focus on what we want to do by change the way we see the things around us, which lead to good understanding of our goal, Fantastic Clarification of the idiom “Gamification” and how we can benefit from it’s implementation in any filed

#2 Balaji Muniraja

Hi,
Nice article, i am an Agile Coach @ HCL Technologies and working on creating Adoption of Agile using Agile Fluency Gamified. Will share more, please reach out to me at balaji dot muniraja at gmail dot com
Thanks and Regards
Balaji.M

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