Gamification is a fascinating subject; it’s the process of engaging audiences by leveraging the best of loyalty programs, game design and behavioral economics.  While we may not notice it, virtually are all of us are involved with gamification everyday, whether it be through airline miles programs, credit card rewards, supermarket loyalty cards or liking something on Facebook.  About a month ago, Gabe Zichermann and Joselin Linder released a thought provoking, worthwhile read, The Gamification Revolution: How Leaders Leverage Game Mechanics to Crush the Competition.  It focuses on gamification in two arenas.  It discusses a company’s internal gamification of their employees in order to find, retain and entice talent.  Secondly, of equal importance, it looks at the art of increasing customer engagement through positive feedback loops, to generate excitement, enthusiasm and loyalty.

Gartner Group predicts that by 2015, nearly 70% of the world’s largest enterprises will be using it, driving 50% of all innovation.  M2 Research expects that US companies alone will be spending $3 billion per year on gamification techniques and services before the end of the decade.  Gamification has always been a vital marketing tool, even if we called it by other names in the past.  It will play an even bigger role in the future.

A few highlights from The Gamification Revolution: How Leaders Leverage Game Mechanics to Crush the Competition are listed below:

  • Gamification presents the best tools humanity has ever invented to create and sustain engagement in people.
  • The best way to beat the competition is make your employee and customer experience as fun and engaging as possible.
  • Mastery is different that winning – although it’s easy to confuse the two.  Winning is really about achieving a goal, while mastery is about acquiring knowledge and demonstrating control and doing so in a steady consistent progression.  Mastery is continuous improvement, whereas winning is a destination.
  • Games are not synonymous with winning – and arriving at a “winner” is seldom the goal of gamification.
  • Points are feedback systems used to track behavior, keep score and provide feedback.
  • Gamification and the entire engagement layer are essential elements of the whole, and as the top layer, they serve as an invitation to the cake.  But remember, people will not eat a second bite of the cake if its bad, nor will they be excited to keep eating if the icing doesn’t do its job to complement the cake.