Change Play Business: Gamified Business Process Innovation.

Many believe that serious work entails long hours of hard work, late nights, never-ending revisions, stress—all major killers of creativity that results in low performance levels. 

We often hear the serious co-worker say ”We are doing serious business and don’t have time for fun at work.” — one of the most common arguments encountered by Mario Herger when facing clients in his area of work around gamification (most designers like to call it ‘gameful design’ or ‘meaningful play’). There are many ways to counter such an argument, he suggests that you could ask why the person considers work and fun to be mutually exclusive. The difference between serious work and serious play is the ‘fun’ factor—the integration of fun theory and flow theory in the process of work as a means to increase engagement and motivation is becoming increasingly important for the well-being of your employees to yield better performance and innovative potential.

So what exactly is gamification? Analyst, Brian Burke, from at Gartner Inc., explains this concept as “the broad trend of employing game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health and social change” (2011). It is only recently that organisations have began to understand the value of game mechanics and it has now become an “important and powerful new strategy for influencing and motivating groups of people” (Bunchball Inc., 2011) leading to innovative practice. Gartner Inc. predicts

“By 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes…By 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon, and more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.” 

Games are now widely recognised as an effective way to overcome common problems such as boredom, disengagement, and dissatisfaction, which have been proven to affect organisational performance, creative and innovative potential. In the past few years, there is an increasing number of businesses out there (Bunchball Inc., Gametrainers) providing gamification services to help organisations frame problems as ‘challenges’ within a game world by using game mechanics driven by game dynamics. Bunchball Inc. gives a simple explanation of the both  these terms.  

“Game mechanics are the various actions, behaviors, and control mechanisms that are used to “gamify” an activity—the aspects that, taken together, create a compelling, engaging user experience. The compelling, motivational nature of this experience is, in turn, the result of desires and motivations we call game dynamics.” 

Examples of game mechanics are “points, levels, challenges, virtual goods and spaces, leader boards, gifts and charity”. Game dynamics include “desires for reward, status, achievement, self-expression, competition and altruism” (White paper: Gamification 101 from Bunchball Inc). The application of this new way of working is flexible and highly suitable to many as these needs and desires are shared across generations, demographics, cultures and genders. The challenge is in designing the an experience to harness these innate desires through creating engaging challenges that would channel the participants’ energy into achieving clearly defined goals. This new way of working is an extremely powerful and effective method to tackle exhaustive modes of working, without sacrificing creative quality and productivity.