Gamification: using elements of game-playing (i.e. point scoring, competition etc.) to other areas, like online marketing, as a technique to increase engagement with the consumer.
So, what’s it all about? Palmer et al. (2012) stated that Gamification merges the activities of marketing and the thinking of a business manager with tools and creativity possessed by a game designer. Gamification is different to that of actual commercial gaming, as it offers an end-to-end customer service experience for the consumer whilst engaging on a company’s website and/or app.
How is this achieved?
The Gamification of a product or service is not only clever but appealing towards consumers. Gamification takes the core aspects of games; fun, play and challenge. This is then harnessed towards business objectives as oppose to providing pure entertainment value. If executed successfully, a company can develop unique customer loyalty through the use of a game design which changes a customers experience and behaviour with a product and/or service. The appeal however, is exactly that. The game design and offering needs to provide novelty and creativity, sparking interest and engagement. The aim is essentially not to lose the consumers’ interest over time, (Conaway & Garay, 2014). Moreover, consumers can be sustained through effective engagement of products and services, along with receiving forms of rewards or discounts for example. In the UK, Thorntons did just that, offering a gamified version of their chocolate factory and a chance to win a free tour.
How is it sustained?
Palmer et al, (2012) outlined the four key elements of Gamification, in order for it to be successful. These four elements encompass a range of different theories, such as game mechanics, behavioural aspects and the overall user experience, as demonstrated below:
- Progress Paths – this involves using challenging and evolving scenarios in the completion of a task. More often than not, the complexity of a challenge will increase over time, with rewards correlating to such complexity and completion. This is an effective way of keeping a user engaged with the game, offering options for novices but also the ability to become a more advanced user.
- Rewards and Feedback – this can be by way of virtual rewards (i.e. vouchers or coupons etc) or in-fact monetary rewards (i.e. £5 off your first shop). Part of the challenge is selecting and designing the right reward appropriated to the business. For example, different users will vary in motivation, some more concerned with more traditional monetary based rewards or vouchers, whilst others will be more engaged with the game; looking to be able to increase their ability or be able to master a level for example.
- Social Connection – gamification provides the opportunity to network with friends. In turn, this creates competition and a platform for sharing support. Especially over an Internet connection, users can now instigate a dialog with one another instantly, whether that be desktop, mobile or tablet device. Resultantly, the levels of interaction and engagement will increase.
- User Experience and Aesthetics – following significant advancements in video game graphics and design, along with the possibility of cross-platform integration, users today are increasingly demanding with their expectation with technology services. This presents challenges for businesses with limited resources, but also allows for the opportunity to provide competent gamification of a product or service that will appeal to consumers. A perfect example of gamification is the creation of Doritos Crash Course for Xbox Live, found in this article.
Following on from the Doritos Crash Course example and trailer above, let’s dig a little deeper. Doritos Crash Course was (as now a new Xbox console has been released) a side-scrolling platform advertising game that was released on Xbox 360’s Live Arcade service. Not only was this example of gamification launched on Xbox as a free download, the development of the game was part of a competition for amateur game designers whereby the winner was awarded $50,000 and tasked with designing the game. Furthermore, the game covers all the elements needed in successful gamification. There was a single-player mode, online multiplayer to play against friends live and a leader-board for each circuit which showed those with the best recorded times of completion. Not only did this promote engagement and social competitiveness amongst users, but there was no actual form of monetary reward, whether that be a voucher or otherwise. In spite of this, the game had around 1 million downloads on Xbox Live, (Fahey, 2010).
As seen with Doritos Crash Course, if executed correctly, gamification can provide a unique way of engaging with consumers and sustaining interaction with a brand for prolonged periods of time. Moreover, it can be incorporated in a manner which allows a brand to connect with other communities and stakeholders, for instance that of the amateur game designers. With such reach and cohesion, if the resources are available to a firm for gamification, it is hard to argue against.
Conaway, R. & Garay, M.C. (2014), “Gamification and service marketing”, SpringerPlus, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-11.
Fahey, M. (2010). This Is The Best Doritos-Themed Xbox Live Arcade Game Of 2010. [online] Kotaku.com. Available at: http://kotaku.com/5720504/this-is-the-best-doritos-themed-xbox-live-arcade-game-of-2010 [Accessed 6 May 2016].
McCarthy, J. (2016). Thorntons accelerates its digital marketing with gamified Ultimate Guide to Easter Eggs hub. [online] The Drum. Available at: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/03/01/thorntons-accelerates-its-digital-marketing-gamified-ultimate-guide-easter-eggs-hub [Accessed 27 Apr. 2016].
Palmer, D., Lunceford, S. and Patton, A. (2012). The engagement economy: How gamification is reshaping businesses. [online] Deloitte University Press. Available at: http://dupress.com/articles/the-engagement-economy-how-gamification-is-reshaping-businesses/ [Accessed 27 Apr. 2016].