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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

All the world's a game, and biz is a player

Nick Wingfield, The New York Times  Washington, December 24, 2012
First Published: 23:42 IST(24/12/2012) | Last Updated: 23:44 IST(24/12/2012)

If this made-up award makes you feel good about yourself, then you are on your way to understanding gamification, a business trend - some would say fad - that aims to infuse otherwise mundane activities with the excitement and instant feedback of video games.

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Many businesses are using these game tricks to try to get people hooked on their products and services - and it is working, thanks to smartphones and the Internet.

Buying a cup of coffee? Foursquare, the social networking app that helped popularize the gamification idea, gives people virtual badges for checking in at a local cafe or restaurant.

Conserving energy? More than 75 utilities have begun using a service from a company called Opower that awards badges to customers when they reduce their energy consumption.

People and businesses have long added game elements to parts of regular life. Parents reward their children for household work with gold-star stickers. Business travelers pump their fists when they hit elite traveler status on an airline.

But digital technologies like smartphones and cheap sensors have taken the phenomenon to a new level, especially among adults.

Now, game concepts like points, badges and leader boards are so mainstream that they have become powerful motivators in many settings, even some incongruous ones. At a time when games are becoming ever more realistic, reality is becoming more gamelike.

The adoption of games has found particular resonance in the workplace, where games are no longer just a way to goof off.

* Employers like Reed Elsevier, the publishing company, are using a Web-based game service from a company called Keas that encourages workers to stay healthy by grouping themselves into teams of six and collecting points for achieving mental and physical fitness goals.

*Restaurants are using a service from a Boston startup firm called Objective Logistics to rank the performances of waiters on a leader board, rewarding the good ones with plum shifts and more lucrative tables.

*The Israel Defense Forces has embraced the concept as it tries to rally support for its operations. It awards points and badges to visitors to its website if they share its messages on social networks, passing along blog posts like "How Does the IDF Minimize Harm to Palestinian Civilians?"


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