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Game On: Improving business productivity with gamification

Want to ensure everyone is entering their timesheets? Trying to ensure everyone reads the latest HR policy? Need to increase survey participation rates? Simple: Just turn it into a game.

Game On

Increasingly, experts are proclaiming that the way to increase participation and activity levels is to engage people with game-like elements of competitive play. The business world in particular is starting to embrace gamification – the term given to incorporating game-like mechanics into everyday business life and, especially, those tools and systems we need to use every day.

For those of you who thought games have no place in the office, think again. Remember: we’re not talking about playing Halo 3 or Super Mario here. And, truth be told, we’re not talking about replacing Outlook or Word with a game controller. What we are talking about is introducing – and embracing – game design and mechanics in our websites and applications, to make them, dare I say it, more fun. And to increase participation and productivity along the way as well.

Reality is Broken, a book by Webstock-alumni Jane McGonigal, asserts that leveraging game mechanics and game design can be used for more than playing a videogame at the end of a day. McGonigal suggests that there are four key attributes of any game: a goal, clear rules, a feedback system and voluntary participation.

All of these – with the exception of the latter, perhaps – have got relevance when it comes to workplace applications. Take timesheeting for example. The goal is simple: we need to track our time so that this can be invoiced and, in some cases, so we can get paid. Put simply, accurate, timely timekeeping helps my wallet or my organisation’s bottom line. Clear rules are similarly clear: I put my time against projects, and these get charged back to the customer. The feedback system is more nebulous, but the gist is this: if my information is accurate, it gets entered; if it isn’t, then I’m told – either then and there by the system itself, or later on by my manager. Game On: Improving business productivity with gamification

The final attribute – 'voluntary participation' – is harder to achieve. After all, do any of us voluntarily want to use a timesheeting application? Perhaps not in their current form, but if we looked to evolve these systems to be more game-like, then maybe this would change? Could we replicate the thrill of a conventional game by achieving points, being rewarded for timeliness or accuracy, adding elements that make us feel this once-tedious task is more enjoyable? Or if I could compete against my peers and race to see who’s best? These, and other potential improvements, could make all the difference when it comes to achieving those all-important goals we have as an organisation.

Gamification isn’t the answer to everything – good application design and user experience must play a role, too – but as a way of helping increase participation, then this could be one way of making business applications more engaging. Game on.

To find out more about the latest trends, technologies and what Intergen's been up to. Check out our recent SMARTS magazine here.

Posted by: Tim Howell, Marketing Manager | 25 November 2011

Tags: innovation, SMARTS

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