I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the growth of gamification, the use of gaming mechanics to increase user engagement and direct user behavior. One of our clients, Badgeville, has seen tremendous success with their white label social rewards and analytics platform and we’ve had the great fortune to interact with some sharp entrepreneurs in the process. This particular experience has strengthened my opinion that gaming has really been a part of almost every aspect of our lives and digital tools merely enhance the experience (and will continue to do so).
Of course, web apps shouldn’t simply tack on gaming mechanics in an ad hoc manner in order to obtain their results. This needs to be well thought out and included as one component of the total product design. Needless to say, if implemented correctly, even the simplest gaming mechanics (reputations systems or loyalty programs) have been producing benefits for companies in a variety of industries.
As Gabe Zichermann lays out in his book, Game-based Marketing: “in this socially networked, choice-driven world, the old methods of reaching consumers with advertising messages have simply stopped working.” In an age when only 14% of consumers believe what advertisers tell them, old ways of connecting with consumers have to be re-evaluated.
Users are continually barraged by a host of activities (both online and offline) vying for their attention. The levels of engagement that can be achieved through gaming mechanics are tough to pass by (unless there’s a good reason to do so). For us, working with entrepreneurs such as the founders of Badgeville has opened our eyes to the possibilities of gamification and confirmed our conviction that working with startups is not only exciting, but extremely rewarding.
On a final note, as I was writing this post, I just saw that Zynga, the gaming company behind Farmville and Mafia Wars, is about as valuable in the market as Twitter.