Applications and implications of using gaming principles to engage your audience.

Human beings tend to get bored rather easily.
In the majority of Western societies we’re also frequently bombarded by superfluous communication – noise – which ultimately hampers our ability to focus on one thing for a prolonged period of time.

Certain elements of our lives have become so fast-paced that our brains are increasingly, and instinctively, looking to maintain a high pace throughout all our interactions. Inevitably, this means we crave the shorter, sharper and faster in everything.

As Western consumers, we’ll watch a 30 minute TV show instead of a 60 minute one, because it takes less time to consume. We’re more inclined to watch a T20 cricket match instead of a 5-day test because the action is more frantic.
We’ll send an instant message, rather than calling because it’s quicker. Shorter, sharper, faster.

But what happens when our cravings are not satisfied? What happens when our lives don’t match the pace that we’ve come to expect? Well, we tend to get frustrated and we end up getting bored. From a business perspective, it’s ever more challenging to keep people’s attention, whether in a salesroom, training room or a website.

We love to game

We have the increasing tendency to fill this frustration with games. The proliferation of the smart device has given rise to the phenomenon of the casual or social gamer. The casual games market has the potential to reach $7.5bn by 2015. Meanwhile, 81 million people play social games every day, with the average age of the social gamer being 39. The principles behind social and casual gaming are substantial. We see a lot more of the principles of gaming moving into different walks of life. Some people like to call this the notion
of gamification, which we define as:

“The application of the mechanics of gaming to non-game activities to alter people’s behaviour, through driving participation and engagement.”

Is gamification set to explode?

A number of different components are currently converging to whip up the perfect conditions for gamification. Consumers’ desire for gaming is without doubt strong and unwavering. Companies are taking gamification seriously; they spent $100m in 2010 and that figure is expected to rocket to $2.8 billion in 2016.

The access to technology and the appetite to integrate it into our everyday lives is growing substantially. The adaptable nature of gaming principles and digital platforms is an additional contributor to the proliferation of gaming principles.

Gaming is not only for hard core or casual gamers; it can flex and extend to almost every pocket of life.

The structure of gamification
Gamification has three predominant applications:

Engagement: Creating a relationship between the game owner and the audience.

Involve your audience

The Barclaycard Rollercoaster (Barclaycard):
was part of a long-term strategy to encourage customers and businesses to switch over to contactless technology. (

My Marriott Hotel (Marriott):
A kitchen management game focused on employee
engagement and talent acquisition. (

Reveal (L’Oréal):
An online game with learning and recruitment objectives,
simulating the backstage of a product launch at L’Oréal. (

Behaviour Change: Influencing and encouraging specific behaviours for a better overall commercial or societal environment.

Influence changes in behaviour a. Recyclebank:
Encourages citizens to live a greener lifestyle and be rewarded for it. (

b. Liftshare:
A car-pooling scheme that enables users to save money and reduce CO2 emissions. (

c. Foursquare:
Uses simple game mechanics to drive traffic to merchants, and has built a user base of over 10m.

Education: Learning difficult concepts in a stimulating and intuitive way.

Enhance the education and training experience

a. Pass It On (Axa):
Demonstrates the benefits of life insurance to users,
on a particularly sensitive subject.

b. Game Dev Story:
A simulation management game in which the player takes charge of a video game development company. (

c. Ultimate Team Play (Hilton Garden Inn):
Helps to train employees in delivering high levels of customer service in a simulated hotel environment. (

Gamification has seemingly endless applications. Some of them are exemplified below:

There are three methods of behavioural influence within gamification:

Game Mechanics – Typically include:

  • Points – Awarded for specific high value behaviours and achievements
  • Achievements – Provide positive reinforcement for high-value user behaviours. Can manifest themselves with virtual or tangible goods
  • Levels – Signify levels of engagement across a company’s ecosystem

Reputation Mechanics – Typically include:

  • Levels – Levels of status and reputation, tied to both the quality and quantity of high-value behaviours and activities
  • Tracks – Groups of missions that represent an area of expertise. As users complete tracks, they increase their rank and reputation in that specific skillset
  • Leaderboards – Display which high-value behaviours can boost themselves to the top. Linked to specific areas of pertise with contextually rich metadata

Social Mechanics – Typically include:

  • Behaviour Graph – The graph empowers the connection of users through their activities around key objects, such as commenting on content or reviewing a product
  • Social Context – A collection of rich activity streams that surface the contextually relevant behaviours users perform
  • Real-Time Notifications – Alert users about contextually relevant behaviours as they happen, connecting them with valuable content and products

The business and the workplace are no escape
Enterprise, and even business in general is a fascinating opportunity to embed gamification principles. On the one hand there is the workplace, which is a veritable playground for game mechanics. On the other hand, there is the marketplace, which is always thirsty for innovative methods of each spectrum of gamification.

Employers are forever seeking improved methods of staff motivation and engagement, or ways to drive behavioural change. This is a notion that will be explored further in our next issue.