How gamification could be a game changer for your company

We humans are so different, yet so similar. We might differ in our ideology, religion, race or bank balance, that make us feel like strangers to one another. But if there is one thing that  levels the playing field and make us talk from the same page, it is games.

Millions of people use their phones and computers for gaming everyday, whether they are a rockstar, or someone’s grandma, or both. It is predicted that roughly one-third of the entire population of the world will spend a total of $137.9 billion on games in 2018.

What is in these games that make it so universally enticing?

A typical game consists of mainly three components: The player, the goal, and the obstacle. This obstacle can be anything from a gigantic mountain to another human being. But it’s these obstacles that motivate us to keep going. Before we know it, we’re completely submerged into these games, spending hours and hours of our daily time on playing them. More often than not, it comes in the way of our productivity, too. And this is when these games become a problem.

But what if there was a way to combine gaming with productivity? What if the obstacle in the game is the problem that you are trying to overcome in your company? What if you can motivate your employees through games to chase the lofty goal of transforming the organization? And what if that could be a virtual leaderboard of an app that is influencing the employees to keep doing better? Well, that is an interesting line of thought to pursue!

The power of gamification

Let’s take the example of Deloitte, which was trying to make its employees engage with the Deloitte Leadership programme training. There was a sluggish response from the users’ end because they didn’t see any point in indulging in a game by foregoing their daily activities. Deloitte decided to gamify the training program to pique the interest of its employees. Guess what? It worked! After the employees started getting points and sharing training achievements with co-workers, they started coming back to the course more often. The change was substantial; a 37% increase in the return rate of users.

It’s proven to be a game changer

University of Washington’s Center for Game Science worked alongside a biochemistry department interested in using gamification to teach protein folding. This collaboration led to the creation of Foldit, an online puzzle video game that helps users actively explore and understand the intricacies of protein folding. Foldit utilizes a puzzle interface that allows people to compete as they work to figure out various protein structures. This science puzzle was able to intrigue over 240,000 players across the world.

Within ten days, this online, gamified competition led to the discovery of the protein structure M-PMV, creating a major breakthrough in the AIDS research field. Prior to this discovery, PhD scientists had conducted research for 15 years to decipher the structure of M-PMV, the AIDS causing virus.

But why does it work so well?

What is it about gaming that brought together thousands of people to work towards something related to protein folding?

Gabe Zichermann, chairman of the Gamification Summit and author of the book ‘The Gamification Revolution,’ threw light on why gamification works so well. According to him, games provide our brains with what’s known as intrinsic reinforcement. Anytime we challenge our brain to a task and achieve it, our brain secretes the pleasure chemical ‘dopamine.’

This challenge-achievement-pleasure loop affects brain function. With the secretion of dopamine day after day, we get addicted to the certain challenges involved in games. When we succeed, we want to succeed even more. Winning becomes addictive, and it creates what’s known as the winner effect.

Target areas for companies to use gamification

There are different areas in an organization where gamification could provide a substantial improvement.

  • Learning and Development: Learning can be fun. Up the fun quotient by gamifying the learning, and more employees will use the courses to broaden and sharpen their skills

  • Sales: It enhances collaboration between sales agents and rewards all steps that were taken by the sales team. You could create fun challenges between these salespeople to emphasise not just personal wins, but also collaborative behaviours

  • Marketing: Through gamification, employees can be motivated to share information and ideas about their organization, its products, and services. A healthy competition will motivate them to get more leads for the company

  • Product Development: You can gamify sharing of ideas, collaborative efforts, finding bugs, getting customer feedback, and more. These small wins keeps you going and and paves the way for a culture of constant working innovation

Conclusion

Gamification takes the essence of game attributes-- like fun, play, transparency, design and competition-- and applies these to a range of real-world processes. Game design expert Jane McGonigal looks forward to a time in the near future when the power of games is not only widely used in corporations and organizations, but is also used to tackle bigger problems like worldwide poverty and hunger.

This is an exciting age because with the help of technology and gamification, we can harness human potential and use our collective power for the greater good.

Author bio

Deepa is the founder of Zinda.xyz. Zinda’s first product is called Journyz. It uses a gamified, social, AI and mobile first approach to help corporations and employees bring their personal mission and company goals to life.

Deepa has also been involved in various technologies for over 25 years, ranging from legacy mainframes to public cloud.

Did you know?

Holistic interviewed Deepa Kartha to get an inside scoop on Zinda? Read our interview!

Deepa Kartha