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Gamification — what it is and what it means for you

Imagine if earning a living, or getting an education, or developing talents of any sort was just a game. Imagine if every smooth move, every good choice, and every new relationship you developed earned you a virtual (or real) reward. Imagine if work had a payoff as well as a paycheque. Well, imagine no longer. Through a computer, mobile device, or interactive television, you will soon find your work and life being gamified. Read on to find out how you will soon be levelling up the gamification way.

Gamification means applying gaming techniques to non-game activities, such as education, job performance, or life in general. It’s a new buzzword that you are going to hear a lot more about in the coming years. Why? Because it has very real potential to transform how we live, work, and play.

Of course, games have been around forever. And, most of us actually experience gamification on a daily basis. We are applying gaming techniques when we challenge ourselves to do an extra rep during our workout, seek a promotion at work, or encourage our kids to finish their meals in return for a nice dessert or a star on the refrigerator.

Common activities and characteristics of gaming include:

  • fun
  • activity-based
  • being challenged
  • ​setting goals
  • earning rewards
  • monitoring progress
  • trial and error
  • risk-free experience
  • collaboration
  • “leveling up” to bigger challenges and rewards
  • and more.

How will gamification affect our lives in the future?

Companies are already applying gamification to all sorts of industries. My company (www.MediaSpark.com) has been doing it for over a decade in education. Here are industry-wide examples that will emerge in the coming years:

Education

Games are already transforming the way we learn. Reading textbooks and listening to lectures will be enhanced, and in some cases replaced, with games that allow students to directly experience the topic they are trying to learn. Instead of reading about business, run an actual business in a game or simulation. Instead of reading about rocket science, build a simulated rocket and send it into virtual space.

On-the-Job Training

Employees make mistakes. New employees make even more. Employee training will be accelerated with the use of simulation. Games and simulations enable people to learn faster and make mistakes in a risk-free environment instead of on the job. And, employees will have the opportunity discover the key metrics of the entire company, not just their own roles within it (e.g., be the virtual CEO of your own company). Best practices and complex equipment will be simulated. Games will be used to motivate action, develop skills, encourage collaboration, direct performance, and instill customer empathy.

Job Performance

Yearly job performance reviews will be replaced with real-time metrics demonstrating how you are doing. You won’t have to guess at what your boss or coworkers think of your work; you will see the results as they happen. Good team player? Poor followup? Strong ideas? Earn or lose bonus pay and rewards based on performance. If you don’t like what you see, you now have the information to change it – before it’s too late. Better for you. Better for the company.

Personal Health and Lifestyle

Going to the doctor when something is wrong or for a periodic checkup will be replaced with a real time monitor of your health. You will earn rewards for inputting your health status, what you eat, and how you feel. And, you can watch your progress over time. Your financial health will be similar. Instead of the monotony of paying bills, saving a few dollars, and doing your taxes, you will earn rewards for making good decisions while avoiding bad ones – in real time. You will be more conscious of how you spend your time and prioritize your activities. You will be more productive and self-aware.

Marketing

Advergaming has been hot for many years now, and social gaming has exploded. Integrating the consumer (that’s you) into advertising and brand-building through personal rewards earned during gameplay or related activity is becoming more commonplace and will ultimately change advertising and consumer trend forecasting as we know it.

Politics and Media

The world has already seen the power of globalization and social networking facilitate the toppling of long-standing political regimes. The ability to instantly share information and harness the influence and intelligence of crowds is now upon us. Imagine if the masses can be organized and influenced with real-time rewards for supporting or expressing certain opinions or taking specific actions. It’s a powerful force that can be mobilized for positive social transformation.

Entertainment

Video games already generate bigger sales than the Hollywood movie industry. Games and toys are being turned into movies and brand franchises, and mobile and tablet apps are transforming the entire computer industry. Global social gaming and massively multiplayer worlds will soon become mainstream, but they won’t be some side activity that you do while sitting quietly with a computing device. Instead, they will be seamlessly integrated into your daily lives.

Gamification. Ready or not, here it comes. You’ve earned one gold coin for reading this article.

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