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How to make users do what they don’t want to do, or business benefits of Gamification

by Nataliia Kharchenko on 04/04/18 10:10:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

It may surprise you but the most effective and popular applications are usually very simple. Some of these apps went further and managed to combine heavy functionality a with really intuitive interface. But only the best made their apps look like a game. Gamification is a fantastic approach if you need to make a difficult task look like a piece of cake. Let’s shed some light on this phenomenon to find out how your business can benefit from the gamification principles.

How gamification works. Main Principles

In a nutshell, gamification is a process of adding game elements to make people perceive your app as a game. People like games that’s why they agree to perform some difficult tasks if they think it’s a game. For instance, mom says that she will give a cake to a child who cleans his or her room faster. A reward and element of rivalry motivate children to do what they actually hate doing.

The gamification could be applied to anything anywhere. It doesn’t depend on a type of an app. Yet, you need to remember that gamification elements could and would influence the functionality and architecture of your product. That’s why you have to think these steps through before you start the development. Here are the main gamification elements you need to take into account:

Challenge. What you need to do first of all is to set a task. A user needs to understand what he or she has to do very clearly. As well as that, every game has its own rules, don’t forget to include them in your application.

Failures. A customer should be given an opportunity to start everything over and try again. It’s also a great method of motivation for some customers. They play more actively after they failed. 

Support. You need to support customers when they lost and engage them to try one more time. The encouragement can be different for each app. You can remind a user of a purpose of a game or add a motivating quote. But don’t use cliches, they usually irritate customers. 

Aim. Your task is not only to set it but also to remind customers of it all the time. One of the best approaches is to give a customer an opportunity to set this goal for himself. In this case, his motivation will be much stronger. Aim helps users to stay engaged because it’s what they really want. 

Reward. Don’t confuse aim and a reward. These elements are needed for different types of apps. For example, if you are building a fitness app, you need to add aim here. Customers will choose the results they want to gain and would do all the needed tasks. If you are creating an app for employees, they would need a reward here, like bonuses to a salary or more holidays. The terms are pretty the same but one evokes internal motivation and the other one - extrinsic motivation. 

Feedback. Feedback is very important for new customers who don’t actually know the rules of a game and need some assistance. Every interaction of a customer has to be accompanied by the system’s reaction. In such a way you keep the whole process transparent and clear.

Coaching. It can also be a tutorial which simple instructions of what a user has to do. It would be better if a person could turn this mode off in a case he or she doesn't want to see instructions.

Gamification advantages for corporate apps

As we’ve already mentioned, you can apply the method to almost all sorts of apps. One of the greatest benefits of Gamification is that you can use it in your in-house application to motivate employees and many more.

Motivation. How do you like an idea when all your employees do their work with pleasure and happiness? You can achieve all that with the help of a gamified app. Set a contest here and a reward for a winner. That’s all!

Cost reduction. You can save money by setting healthy lifestyle challenges and save money in such way. For instance, give bonuses to a person who didn’t use an elevator for a month.  You save not only money on electricity but also on sick days payments. 

Team building. People with one goal are usually very friendly because they want to win. 

Accelerate productivity. It’s a well-known practice to give bonuses or other awards to the best sales manager who sold the most per month. Use this principle in your app and you’ll see the results.

Reduce stress. Working under pressure is really hard and stressful. If employees consider everything as a game they will feel much more relaxed. 

Fast staff training. If you use heavy machinery in your enterprise, you need to pay lots of money to teach trainees to work with it. Various gamified simulators save your time, money and equipment. 

And even if you don’t have an app for your workers, you can still get lots of advantages if you include gamification principles into an app for your customers. Here is a list of pluses you get with such an approach:

Brand awareness. If your app is super interesting, customers will tell their friends and family about it. Moreover, if you add bonuses to everyone who recommends your app, you’ll get a really nice and cheap advertising campaign.  

Engagement. With the help of small rewards for being loyal to a brand, you can attract lots of users.

Motivation. Sports apps are the brightest examples. When people compete with others or even with themselves it keeps them motivated and these customers use your app more often.

The most common mistakes

As you can see, the application of gamification principles is a really beneficial and rather cheap deal. Yet, you should take your time and contemplate about everything thoroughly because there are lots of mistakes you need to bypass:

  1. If it’s an app for your customers make a game mode optional. Some users (especially middle-aged ones) may have difficulties with it and it would be better if you tell them how to turn the mode off.
  2. The app should remain an app. If your goal is to create a game it’s one thing but an app for customers should be such. Gamification should be here only in some particular elements.
  3. Reward wisely. Too many prizes (which are usually worth nothing) reduce happiness from getting them.
  4. Keep the goal clear. If it’s lost, the motivation will also be lost. You can remind of it periodically.

Gamification is a really cool thing if you need to motivate and engage customers or employees. It doesn't cost much because can be implemented with really simple technologies. The most important here is to keep balance. Game is great but users should remember you.


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