As far as we know, the first use of the term “gamification” was by Nick Pelling back in 2002 as part of his consultancy business, Conundra Ltd. He believed that eventually, every device would become a gaming device. So far, our electric toothbrush is still just good for cleaning teeth, but we appreciate his gaming spirit.
Just about any activity can be gamified, from taking care of your health to recruiting and onboarding employees. Gamification takes advantage of human nature – our desire for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, and of course – having fun. Making a game of any activity requires creating rules of play, points for achievements and levels of mastery, and making results visible to other players.
The U.S. Army’s Chief Economist and Professor at the United States Military Academy created an online game called “America’s Army” in 2002 so gamers could experience a virtual soldier’s point of view in the middle of a firefight. It’s safe to say that the game exceeded their expectations as a PR and recruiting tool. Three years after its launch, one out of every three enlistees had played the game online. The U.S. Army brings a mobile unit to air shows, carnivals, amusement parks, and sporting events to introduce the game to thousands of people each year.
The Army has incorporated elements of actual military training into the game, and it’s now considered one of the most realistic first-person shooter games in the world. To date, more than 13 million players have registered America’s Army accounts, with more than 260 million hours played on the various titles.
Xerox makes training more fun for new workers through the use of an app. Qstream works like a trivia game. Every day the app lets the employees learn what they need to know. Sales reps respond to simple, scenario-based Q&A challenges for a few minutes every few days using their smartphone or mobile device. Built-in game mechanics, including leaderboards and scoring, engage users in a competition that’s fun and not disruptive to work time. According to the company, peer-reviewed research shows that the platform’s approach increases retention by up to 170 percent and can make a lasting change to on-the-job behaviors.
Gaming is not just for your 20-something newbies. Deloitte had created a leadership training program for senior executives, but they weren’t getting much engagement. They engaged a company to introduce gamified elements like badges, leaderboards and status symbols that measured how many executives were participating and completing courses. The results were gratifying: the average time to complete the training curriculum dropped by 50 percent, and the program has seen a 46.6 percent increase in the number of users that return to the site daily.
Here at CSI, health and fitness are just a few of our core values. As our COO Chris Flakus puts it, “People who feel good about themselves, work harder.” A large percentage of the CSI staff participate in the quarterly “COO Challenge,” where employees earn points for specific achievements of strength and endurance. While the majority of the challenges are performed at our headquartered on-site gym, this contest encourages our 5 branch offices and remote employees to participate as well. The prizes are probably secondary to bragging rights, but they appreciate gift cards, too.
What seems like a chore becomes fun when you have a chance at winning. Next time your team just isn’t feeling it, turn whatever needs to get done into a game and reap the potential rewards!