Gam­i­fi­ca­tion the name of the game

A new highly en­gag­ing gen­er­a­tion of soft­ware has the power to su­per-charge any or­gan­i­sa­tion’s worker pro­duc­tiv­ity. John Jones ex­plains the how and the why.

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‘Gam­i­fi­ca­tion’ might just sound like an­other one of those hyped-up buzz words bub­bling out of wide-eyed techies ex­tolling their mag­i­cal Gen-Y an­swers to yet more prob­lems that once didn’t even seem to ex­ist. And, in all hon­esty, that can be quite a fit­ting de­scrip­tion when the con­cept’s taken to ex­tremes.

But for busi­ness lead­ers will­ing to chew the meat and spit out the bones, there are some gen­uinely rev­o­lu­tion­ary in­sights in gam­i­fi­ca­tion that have the power to su­per-charge or­gan­i­sa­tions’ pro­duc­tiv­ity.

The key fac­tors be­hind this po­ten­tial are pretty well en­cap­su­lated by a few words – such as fun, en­joy­able, mo­ti­vat­ing, vis­ual, in­tu­itive and mean­ing­ful. You see, if we look back, for many decades making games and making ‘se­ri­ous’ soft­ware were to­tally dif­fer­ent worlds, but a sim­ple ob­ser­va­tion had to be made; games are more fun.

In very straight for­ward terms, peo­ple pay to play games but usu­ally have to be paid to use the se­ri­ous soft­ware. So games clearly have some­thing that Mi­crosoft Ex­cel, email pro­grams, and even New Zealand’s beau­ti­ful Xero do not. That some­thing is mas­sive en­gage­ment, and this kind of en­gage­ment is prob­a­bly the most pre­cious el­e­ment known to mankind. With it, hu­man beings have con­quered moun­tains, es­tab­lished em­pires, over­come im­pos­si­ble hard­ships and cre­ated stun­ning works of art, tech­nol­ogy, and con­struc­tion, which at times, have al­most seemed su­per­hu­man. On the flip side, with­out en­gage­ment, hu­man beings can eas­ily turn into life­less sponges that suck the en­ergy out of ev­ery­thing else around them.

So is gam­i­fi­ca­tion, es­pe­cially when re­lated to staff en­gage­ment, just an­other tick-box to add to some utopian wish-list, or does it con­tain real magic?

Let’s start by un­cov­er­ing what gam­i­fi­ca­tion is, some ways that it can be ap­plied and how it re­lates to this pow­er­ful qual­ity: ‘en­gage­ment’.

Wikipedia says that “Gam­i­fi­ca­tion com­monly em­ploys game de­sign el­e­ments which are used in so called non-game con­texts in at­tempts to im­prove user en­gage­ment”.

Al­though this can in­clude things like scor­ing, com­pe­ti­tion and game-like sce­nar­ios, some of the more com­monly ap­plied el­e­ments are to do with vi­su­al­i­sa­tion, in­tu­itive touch (or mouse) in­ter­ac­tion, sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of con­cepts and ap­ply­ing game-like rules to controlling the flow of oper­a­tions.

As an ex­am­ple, some of the in­no­va­tive new prod­ucts we’re build­ing for clients, while still en­abling in­creased ef­fi­ciency and in­for­ma­tion ac­cess (which soft­ware has long been about), are also bring­ing day-to-day oper­a­tions into a vis­ual, touch and in­tu­itive ex­pe­ri­ence that work­ers them­selves love.

When truck driv­ers can see a pic­ture of their truck with

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