Gamification: Making Everyday Life More Fun
Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and theory into non-game applications. With Spogo, our users accumulate points for making correct predictions while they watch sports. Those points can then be used to unlock deals and prizes from our network of partners. We’ve turned watching the game (a passive activity), into a game (an active one).
The word “gamification” has generated a tremendous amount of buzz in the tech community over the past few years, yet for most outside of that world, the word is foreign. I thought I’d use this post to help our readers understand the concept itself and also share some practical and unique applications of gamification (it’s a mouthful, I know):
Frequent Flyer Miles: Frequent flyer miles are important because they were one of the very first applications of gamification, and they are still around today. The first programs were put in place in the early 1980’s and turned something mundane into a gamified experience. The concept is simple: the more you fly, the more points you accumulate. Those points can earn you free flights.
Foursquare: Foursquare allows its users to compete with friends and win virtual points and badges for visiting new or unique places. Spogo found a lot of its inspiration from Foursquare, whose founder Dennis Crowley has seemingly perfected gamification. He managed to get millions of people to compete for virtual (let’s be honest, fake) points, all for doing something they’d always been doing: visiting new places. Foursquare’s success can be attributed to a number of factors, but one of the most important was their ability to foresee the gamification trend.
Zamzee: The goal of Zamzee is to make exercise more exciting for children. The Zamzee meter measures physical activity. Results are then uploaded to a website where kids can win virtual badges and real rewards. I find Zamzee exciting because it actually works. It was found in a recent study that children using Zamzee exercised 60% more than those not enrolled in the program.
Speed Camera Lottery: In 2010, Kevin Richardson, winner of the Volkswagen Fun Theory Award, attempted to change human behavior on the roads. Tested in Sweden, instead of just giving tickets for breaking the speed limit, anyone who drove under the limit was entered into a lottery in which winners received the proceeds from the speeders. This motivated positive driving behavior through a simple, yet effective game.
Angola: Gamification has made it all the way to the Louisiana State Penitentiary, otherwise known as “Angola”. Attempting to motivate good behavior, Warden Burl Cain allows prisoners to compete for certain behavioral milestones, and in turn rewards them with opportunities to own a pet, take a job, roam the grounds freely and even participate in an annual rodeo.
The above examples only scratch the surface of the impact and potential of gamification. The concept can be applied to any industry to create engaging, innovative, educational and motivational experiences. I’ll leave you with an interesting TED talk from Gabe Zimmerman about how gamification is changing our lives. When you get a few minutes, watch it. I’ll give you 10 points.