Congratulations. Reading the first paragraph of this article has earned you a badge.
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.
Businesses are using these game tricks to try to get people hooked on their services — and it is working, thanks to smartphones and the Web.
Buying a cup of coffee? Foursquare, the social networking app that helped popularise 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.
Customers can compare their progress with their neighbours’ and broadcast their achievements on Facebook.
“I’m not going to lie — I hate those online game apps on Facebook. I delete them,” said Brett Little, who works for an environmental nonprofit group, and has been known to share his energy-saving progress online. “This one I really enjoy.”
Employers like Reed Elsevier, the publishing firm, use 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. Among the challenges Keas assigns: laughing randomly for 30 seconds. The members of winning teams at Reed each get $200 gift cards.
Restaurants are using a service from a Boston start-up company called Objective Logistics to rank the performances of waiters on a leader board, rewarding the good ones with plum shifts and more lucrative tables. NYT