What You Should Know About Gamification

Designing Digitally


Since the beginning of time, or at least since the marketplace developed as a center for commerce and trade, businesses have sought methods for getting a “leg up” on the competition.

For most companies, this advantage usually translates into a lower-cost method for doing business, or some tactic for increasing sales. Even for those agents of industry who develop a revolutionary new product, there comes a point where imitators are making it cheaper, or with a twist or innovation to the basic product- there goes the leading market share for the original creators. Gamified learning, also known as gamification, uses game mechanics like badges and leaderboards to engage and motivate learners during training to create a behavior change or knowledge retention. Innovative companies are using gamification in their training to get a “leg up” on their competition.

Through gamification, employers are able to better engage their audience and create the desired behavior change in their organization. For instance, using badges to reward a learner for completing a certain task or performing above a specified standard. When the learner receives the recognition and status associated with a given badge/reward, they are more motivated to continue and perform well.

Much of the reason so many businesses are engaging with gamification, outside of increased engagement and motivation, is because the metrics generated enable training and HR professionals to monitor training progress as well as performance in the module from a productivity perspective. As Michelle Greenwald explains in a September 2014 Forbes article, “It’s often accompanied by progress tracking metrics. The objectives are to engage users and change their behaviors in ways brands and organizations want. The extremely broad and expanding range of ways gamification has been successfully utilized in recent years provides insights into other ways the tactic can achieve strategic objectives.” In other words, improvements and adjustments in the serious game can make employees learn more or increase productivity, or motivate customers to engage more with the business or product.

Greenwald goes on to illustrate the vast diversity of applications that are inherent within gamification for employees and customers alike for business purposes. Some of her examples include the following:

For health care, “Alvio makes breathing and lung exercises more fun for kids and individuals with asthma and other respiratory problems. It’s a win-win. A win for Alvio’s sales and a win for patients who get better and significantly reduced needs for inhalants, because they’re more likely to do the exercises and can more easily measure how well they are doing them!"

For automobile manufacturing, “The Ford Fusion hybrid dashboard has gamified driving, to help drivers maximize the fuel economy of their vehicles. With the EcoGuide, developed in conjunction with Smart Design, ‘efficiency leaves’ appear on the dashboard and grow and proliferate the more efficiently the car is driven. This helps drivers adjust their driving speeds and rewards them for ‘good behavior.’”

Sustainability initiatives and behavior modification, “On RecycleBank’s website, users earn points by answering a tiered series of questions about green living, and by pledging to adopt greener habits. At home, they earn points the more they recycle, by measuring the weight each time. Participants redeem points for merchandise, discounts on brands like SC Johnson and Unilever, and at hundreds of retailers including Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Whole Foods.”

Gamification for behavior change

For brand loyalty and increased sales, McDonald’s “classic” Monopoly campaign is gamified, albeit a non-digital variety. “McDonald’s Monopoly game, which started in 1987, encourages customers to come to the restaurant frequently, for more chances to win, and to visit the website often to see if they’ve won. The results are increased sales, brand engagement, and time spent with the brand.”

Employee training, “Gamification of employee training has been a huge and highly productive area. Far more fun, interesting & engaging than a manual or lecture, video and board games have been created to teach everything from portion control at Cold Stone Creamery, to customer service at Starbucks, and housekeeping and reception desk skills at Hilton Garden Inn."

Function over Form

A disheartening, but sometimes true fact- gamification does not always provide the ROI companies are looking for. Adam Hollander, explains in a Fast Company article, “Another statistic from Gartner shows that 80% of those same gamification implementations will fail to meet their business objectives. I’ve heard many companies talk about using gamification solutions because they look fun. This is the wrong reason to use gamification. Gamification in the enterprise is not about fun or even engagement--it’s about driving business results through changes in employee behavior. Gartner says that the reason most gamification implementations will fail is because of poor design. In my experience, poor gamification design is a direct result of not identifying (and being able to measure against) key business problems a company is looking to solve.”

Some companies get caught up in the idea of gamifying their training and lose focus on what is really important, the learning. Sure, you can hand someone your training powerpoints and tell them, “gamify it,” but chances are you will not be in much better shape than before. Before contracting a company to gamify your learning, make sure you flesh out your true training needs and pain points. What behavior change or knowledge do you desire? The last thing you want is to invest resources in a training course that looks better than it teaches.

Fortunately, at Designing Digitally we treat the learning as priority number 1. Our partnership begins with a detailed Training Needs Analysis to really flesh out your learning objectives and pain points. We identify how to best convey your vital information to your audience and how gamification elements can complement the learning and boost engagement and motivation. Here at Designing Digitally aesthetics come after learning to ensure your learners reach the training objectives and the desired behavior change occurs.

Are you curious about what a gamified learning experience could do for your company? Contact us today to learn more. Or, request a free quote. We’d love to hear from you!