Gamification: Why it can work everywhere


Almost 300.000 visitors, journalists and exhibitors are walking around in Cologne these days to explore 140.000 m² of exhibition space at Europe´s largest convention for video games, the Gamescom.

2013 is the fifth year of the convention in Cologne but the attention and excitement have never been higher. The market of video games has been growing exponentially after social and mobile games conquered our networks and mobile devices. Sony and Microsoft push their advertising effort to new limits for the new generation of consoles to convince as much gamers as possible to become buyers on holiday season. Gamers in return are thankful for any bits and pieces of new information on PlayStation 4 and XBOX One. They already decided that they want a new console; the only question is which one. To put it in one sentence, video games definitely are part of our modern entertainment culture.

But modern gaming is not limited to selling hard- and software. We implemented the nature of gaming in many other parts of our personal life and society. The term for this trend has been first introduced by Nick Pelling in 2002 : Gamification. That means we are adding gaming features to areas where gaming is not intended in the first place (or at least wasn’t until now). Areas like work, personal interests and advertisement.

Gamification in our work life – More engagement for employees and applicants

Job interviews are often stressful and tense for the applicants. They don’t want to look ineligible at first glance while human resource responsibles often struggle to Identify  which behavior is authentic and  which one is not. Gamification can help both sides. That is why companies like Unilever or Royal Air Force already tried video games for their assessment centers. These games are neither complicated nor time-consuming and can offer many insights about the applicant’s flexibility, strategic thinking or risk disposition.

But even the general affection for the company or product can rise due to Gamification methods. In 2002 the United States Army released the online shooter game America´s Army for free. After the release, the US army recorded an increase of applications. Also the best players were contacted directly from the military to urge for new recruitments. The latest update of the game was released in 2009 and had an estimated production cost of 32 million dollars.

We as PHD also recognized the power of Gamification and thus implemented those mechanisms within our newly launched global strategic planning system Source. While those features are not essential for strategic media planning, they immensely enhance the output of innovative work.

Gamification in our private life – Makes the fun stuff even better

Running is popular. And it is even more popular since mobile applications were available to track the running performance and give the user direct feedback during the run. Today, there are a dozen of applications on iTunes and Google Play app stores the user can choose from. But none of them are as entertaining and creative as the Kickstarter project Zombies, Run!. Basically the app offers the same features as any other running app; tracking information like speed, pulse, altitude and so on. But it also puts you right in the middle of a zombie apocalypse where you participate within the story. Before a run, runners can choose between different missions. Any mission is told through several audio parts and rewards the runner with imaginary items he can collect. After each run the items can be used to expand the survivor’s base and of course shared on Facebook.

But also sports can turn into digital Gamification. Almost any team-based sport can be played as a fantasy league version nowadays. In fantasy leagues, users assemble their dream team from real players. Each player is scored after his weekly performance, whereas the user earns points for this performance and competes with other users to find out which team earned the most points after one season. Sometimes the passion for fantasy leagues is even higher than for the real one.

Gamification in advertisement could be more than just an innovative format

Given it´s vitality on both, a professional and private level, Gamification will no longer stay away from advertising as well. Unsurprisingly, the most innovative brands are using it already – even more than within format ideas.

In 2012 McDonalds Denmark released the Coinoffers campaign.   McDonalds attached QR codes to their ad formats. With the help of a special app, anyone was able to scan these QR codes to earn coins which later on could be traded for McDonald’s products. The Gamification approach to hunt for these coins was an immediate success. The Coinoffers app even reached in that period the top one iTunes and Google Play “most downloaded App”. Besides the general buzz the campaign created, McDonald´s was also able to achieve a strong ROI with those consumers taking part in the hunt: twice as high as its investments.

The spread of Gamification into all segments of our lives & advertising has not reached its maximum, as proves in the recent study of the re-known technology research company Gartner. They are predicting that by 2016, nearly half of all major innovations (causing the highest ROI) will be fueled by Gamification mechanisms.

We believe it is a great opportunity for advertisers, companies and developers to encourage engagement and foster competitive advantages.



2 thoughts on “Gamification: Why it can work everywhere

  1. Pingback: Blackberry: The artist formally known as… | Finding a better way...

  2. Pingback: Gamification: Part 2 | Finding a better way...

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