Reality Is Our Sandbox — The Principles of Gamification All Around Us

Gamification, simply put, is the use of game mechanics and principles in non-game contexts to engage a certain target market. It's had so much use in customer relationship building or employee engagement. And it's not even about making an app or developing a game per se. Think loyalty cards, for example. It could be as simple as giving consumers points every time they interact with your brand and then rewarding them after they reach a certain level. It's all a game. And it's addictive.

In fact, in Gabe Zichermann's Google Talk (below), he goes as far as saying that dopamine is actually released in the brain at certain reward parts of the engagement loop making it addictive not just in the figurative sense.

 Gabe Zichermann's Gamification Revolution

And we see this all around us. Many marketers and planners implement this in their strategies, some of them just not labeling or recognizing it as gamification. It's just such an effective strategy for engagement that it had been an organic part of improving engagement all along. It's just that it's more pronounced now that digital elements are an essential part of a any campaign.

Let's try to deconstruct LinkedIn's gamification strategies as an example. Look at how they add tasks for you to complete that will in turn allow you to "level up" so that your motivations and goals become more attainable (ie. network with people, get hired, sell something, or hire someone). They even go as far as labeling the different levels (mine is now "All-Star" level).

LinkedIn's Recommended Tasks

And that's even a bad or at least blatant example. It's all around us. Many effective strategies and executions are gamified regardless if it was intended to be. And I'm addicted to it. In fact, I'm really starting to see the beauty in planning and strategy. It's actually a lot of philosophy, economics, communication, psychology, and sociology all tied in together. It's really powerful stuff. I'll be blogging about it more soon so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@harryinitiative) to get updates on my latest blog posts.

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