The trend of neologism – creating new words – is on a rise in the world of technology. We need new words to interpret new ideas. We had the Internet, Websites, Blogs, Web 2.0, Social Media, Tweet and now Gamification.
‘Gamification’ is the new buzz word and it’s coming soon to your gym, your job, your government and even your doctor. In fact it has already arrived in the world of financial services, and is used by marketers to engage customers online.
As defined on Wikipedia – “Gamification is the use of game play mechanics for non-game consumer technology applications (also known as “funware”), particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications”
The corporate world is realizing that “gamification” is an effective way to generate business using the same mechanics that keeps gamers glued to their television/laptops.
Since the inception of videogames, people have questioned why gamers spend hours to reach to that final stage of the game, working towards intangible rewards. The study of human behavior shows that incentives offered for completing a task, tend to be addictive.
An example for this is the location based website, Foursquare. The mobile app encourages people to share their location wherever they are. The users try to check in to locations several times to receive one of the several badges offered by the site.
The entire experience of achieving the “Mayor” status of a particular location gives users immense pleasure. The commercial side of this is that many retailers give their customers discounts/freebies upon achieving a “Mayor” badge (or any other badge prescribed by the retailer). E.g. Dominos pizza in the UK offers exclusive discount to anybody who checks into their outlet frequently and becomes the Mayor of that outlet.
Mint.com transformed the financial services into a gaming experience – Want to go to Bali for your next vacation? Select that option from drop down list of rewards on the website, and as you save your deposits toward achieving the desire target, a gauge fills, showing you how close you are to your next vacation. Mint is making managing one’s money more fun with a unique approach.
A regional example is RAK Bank in the UAE, who has recently launched games on their website to engage customers with the brand and indirectly inform them about their products.
However, the Gamification is still in its infancy. The Gamification of services/products should not be just restricted to a points-like program. The users may reject Gamification as any other loyalty program.
Points and badges are an important part of a game rewarded to customers for completing a task. They’re great tools for acknowledging a gamers’ effort, but neither points nor badges in any way comprise a game. The overall experience of playing a game should be enhanced and lead directly to rewarding a user. Once this phenomenon is mature, a game itself must be able to give the player the choice to make a decision that will result in a reward.
If the “gamified” businesses, programs and products are successfully implemented they will mutually benefit the company and the consumer. There is an opportunity for transaction-based businesses to tap the gaming culture by gamifying online experiences, considering the ever-widening range of gaming experiences.
About the author: Kapil Bhatia is an E-Business Manager, working in the Financial Services Industry past 10 years. His work ranges across Digital Marketing, e-Channels and development of marketing strategies, with a sound Information Technology base.