Gamified Life: Gaming goes mainstream

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It was a hot summer day and our teenagers and their friends were playing in our pool. As I observed them, I grasped how video games have affected how they speak and play. I heard Ben tell someone that they had ‘lost a life’. Kaden issued a challenge and the task was called a ‘mission’ and lack of success was a ‘fail’. An effective flip was referred to as ‘a sick combo’ and earned someone a ‘level-up’.

As a trendwatcher, I like to keep the pulse on trends which are going to change the way we live. Gamification is one of these trends. The communication in our swimming pool, a domain I once believed to be a video-game free zone, demonstrates how video gaming has also crept into our mainstream lives.

Gamification is …the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems”.[1] Practically, we are seeing this concept creep into things such as exercise (review a recent Apple fitness ad), learning (engage in brain games at lumosity.com) or staff training (see how Deloitte Consulting is using it to teach). Those of us who are Starbucks reward card holders see elements of gamification in the way they award badges or accomplishments after the completion of certain tasks (first on-line purchase, gold star status, or sending an e-gift).

As I monitor trends, I set signposts as a means to monitor how a trend is progressing. Like roadside mileage markers, the more frequently you see these signposts, the faster the trend is developing (or diminishing). Here are a few signposts to monitor as you observe the trend of gamification.

  1. Vocabulary: Watch for an increase in daily language terms related to gaming, especially with non-traditional audiences. This will range from terms such as badges or accomplishments to levels and domains.
  2. Location Diversity: Watch for gamification in non-traditional venues. The Toy Story ride at Disneyland is an example of the predictable gamification in amusement parks. However, when you see gamification concepts being used in venues like churches or employment training centers, you know it is hitting the mainstream.
  3. Recreation: Watch for gamification concepts to enter traditional forms of recreation. Concepts such as Laser Tag, Bingo Bowling, or TopGolf are indicators that gamification is affecting old-style games in new ways.
  4. Teaching/Learning: Watch for an increase in the use of tablets, apps and games in classrooms. The increasing use of resource such as Kahn Academy, a gamified college course (Olds College) or the elementary curriculum which uses on-line games to reinforce learning  herald the acceptance of gamification.

New trends are always accompanied by both advantages and disadvantages. Strategic organizations learn to leverage the advantages. Gamification will provide many opportunities which will help organizations to achieve their mission in fresh ways.

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[1] Gamification. Wikipedia.com. Retrieved July 21, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification

 

 

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