How Gamification is Changing the Game

John Smith

I remember being about twelve years old, spending hours on end in front of my basement TV playing GameCube with my brothers. Game after game, we’d sit there mesmerised until we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore. Why do games captivate us so much? A concept called “Gamification” provides some insight, defined by BunchBall as “the process of taking something that already exists – a website, an enterprise application, an online community – and integrating game mechanics into it to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty”.

According to a Frontiers in Human Neuroscience study, earning rewards will motivate a user to continue playing a game. The reward element of gaming was found to be a critical factor in improving motivation and both cognitive performance and development. These effects were perceived to last long after the subject finished the game. Through basic reward systems, individuals will also likely feel more satisfied and motivated to complete repetitive tasks. With this concept, employers are using gamification to turn mundane tasks into engaging activities.

FDM Consultant Khadija Matheson-Webster kicks the ball during a soccer game in Hong Kong.
Combining game-like mechanics with traditional tasks is a concept that has been around for some time. For 16 years, Google has organised a coding competition known as Google Code Jam, where coders compete to win prizes of up to $50,000. Since software-writing can be painstaking work, Google’s introduction of a game-like element helps to keep contestants engaged and involved. Google’s ulterior motive? Talent-scouting to find the most capable minds to recruit.

Incentives are a great tool to keep engagement high. According to TalentLMS, 89% of 900 surveyed employees found that the gamification of work-related tasks helped boost their productivity. 88% of those employees also felt happier at work. According to a Cornell University study, immediate rewards can be more successful in increasing intrinsic motivation, which is the natural driving force of an individual. The positive experience of completing the task is also amplified, making it easier for the individual to do over and over.

Gamification also has recruitment benefits. Intertwining games and the interview process can make the experience more interactive, entertaining and meaningful for candidates. Quizzes, puzzles and behavioural tests help employers analyse on-the-job performance. Games can also help gauge skills like creativity and problem-solving while keeping interviewees immersed in the process. Gamification can also help establish a company as a fun place to work, strengthening their brand image.

Gamification can be a valuable tool in modern businesses, helping to engage their workforce, hire new team members and increase motivation. On a very basic level, gamification helps work feel less like work, and in some cases remind us of those games we used to play as kids.

Featured image credit: Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash