Game on: Early gamification adopters score big

Gamification. What is it? And what does it mean to your business?

It's a trend that signifies the addition of gaming elements (e.g., leveling up, the awarding of badges) to nongaming situations, such as shopping, health and wellness or training. And although still somewhat in its infancy, early adopters are leveraging game-based technologies to drive trips to retail, grow share, build brands, and recruit and train the next generation of business leaders.

The opportunity for the retailer or CPG company can be significant, whether you're stimulating more engaged consumers or improving employee performance. Demographically, gaming appears to appeal to younger generations more than older, but not by much. "Millennials do all kinds of stuff that is already gamified," noted Karl Kapp, instructional technology professor at Bloomsburg University and author of "The Gamification of Learning and Instruction." "It doesn't mean baby boomers don't like it or won't engage it, it just means they're not as familiar with [the concept]."

But the prevalence and utility of gaming programs is expected to expand in the coming years as more millennials and younger generations begin joining the work force. "I see gamification as a great way [for millennials] to develop their personal brand within an organization," said Ryan Jenkins, author of "The GenEdge: Leverage Millennials with a Next Generation Mindset," "If companies start putting in place gamification to where it's ... part of a way to expand on certain skills," that could be really beneficial for young executives, Jenkins suggested. Milllennials will have the opportunity to get really sharp in a certain aspect of their job, and they'd be able to show that as part of a digital resume. "They could say, 'I have 12 badges, [and] that makes me an expert in contract negotiations,'" he said.

But what is gamification, exactly? It's more than awarding points, as you find in many linear loyalty programs (i.e., earn points and cash in for rewards). Gamification is more dynamic. It requires a certain amount of commitment from the end user as they achieve greater levels or earn more badges. And there is a social aspect, often in the form of a leader board where "gamers" can check their progress against others.

DSN recently talked to the experts along two tracks of gamification — consumer engagement on one side, employee education and training on the other. Following are some emerging best practices.

10 startling stats:

  1. In the United States alone, there are 183 million active gamers. 
  2. Active computer or video gamers play 13 hours a week on average.
  3. Collectively, the planet is now spending more than 3 billion hours a week gaming. 
  4. 69% of all heads of household play computer and video games.
  5. 97% of youth play computer and video games.
  6. 40% of all gamers are women.
  7. 1-out-of-4 gamers is older than 50 years.
  8. The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing for 12 years.
  9. Most gamers expect to continue playing games for the rest of their lives.
  10. 61% of surveyed CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives say they take daily game breaks at work.

Source: "Reality is Broken" by Jane McGonigal

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