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Big Fat Geeky Gamification

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The Gaming Force is With You

We’ve seen it numerous times. Movies about machines and/or artificial intelligence taking over the world. In The Terminator it was a computer defense system known as Skynet. In The Matrix it was the machines. Both of these movies depict post apocalyptic worlds that came to be because of radical ideas that were supposed to help mankind, but instead back fired. Even this summer we’ll get to see Tony Stark’s creation turn evil and try to take over the world in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It never fails. Well, what if I told you about another force that is taking over our world right here, in real time? No, there’s no blockbuster movie about it, but what’s really fascinating is that this force injects gaming into our everyday lives. The force that I speak of is called gamification and it’s arguably the next best thing since…well…video games!

You Like to Play Games

Gamification is a business strategy used to engage and drive behaviour by applying gaming mechanics to non-gaming experiences. So why would any organization use such a strategy? One, to drive business results. Two, people like to play games. Whether you are playing a video game on your 60 inch Sony LED or playing Gin Rummy in the living room with family, we all like games. There are times when we’re not even aware that we’re playing a game. In the morning, on your way to the office what do you normally do? You buy a coffee right? Most likely from Tim Horton’s. And if you buy that coffee in between the months of February and April what happens before you throw the cup away? That’s correct. You roll up the rim. You just played a game without even really thinking about it. McDonald’s gamifies your experience as well with their Monopoly program, but this game is more apparent because Monopoly is a board game that has been established for over 100 years. Monopoly and Roll Up The Rim. Two very different game mechanics, but both equally effective. Here’s an example a little closer to home. Candy Crush. My wife is obsessed with it. When ever she has down time you’ll find her playing this sweet, yet punishing mobile game. She’s a gamer. A Candy Crush gamer, but a gamer nonetheless. “I gotta get the jellies!” This is her war cry. She’s addicted to the candy just like a drug and the dealer/game developer want it that way. All game developers do. They keep us coming back for more with their Candy Crushes and their Angry Birds and they do it with fun and compelling gaming mechanics. Our intrinsic needs for points and badges motivate us and drive our behaviours because we want rewards. We want instant real time feedback. Game developers figured this out decades ago and now schools, companies and organizations are using gamification, to teach, train, motivate and engage their students and/or employees. It’s working like gangbusters. Clients, workers and students are reacting positively because gamification is fun, rewarding and a terrific motivator. The only question is how to get more employers to hop on board?

Gamification in Your Workplace

Statistics show that 70% of the work force is disengaged. This means a decrease in productivity, profitability, quality and an increase in absenteeism and turn over for employers. Gamification has the power to reverse this. I say that it’s time to turn the tide with game based thinking and techniques that video game developers have been using for years. Companies can benefit from their employee’s needs and natural desires for competition, achievement and status. Rewards such as points, levels and badges can be used to showcase the talents and accomplishments of employees. We need to engage and motivate that 70% and we can by using the very same mechanics that gamers have come to love and apply it in the workplace. This is something that employees from every walk of life can benefit from. You don’t have to be a video gamer to benefit from this. As long as you like fun and don’t mind a little healthy competition between co-workers then this will be right up your alley. With gamification office objectives and tasks become more fun and help to keep employees engaged. Why do you think that games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto do so well? Developers know how to keep us engaged and wanting more. Virtual death and destruction can be fun, but it’s really the gaming mechanics behind the theme of the game that has everyone hooked. Old school employers you need to learn from this. The occasional potluck and/or summer barbecue in the parking lot just isn’t enough anymore. It’s time for a different solution that can truly make a difference. Just because gamification has the word game in it doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time or unproductive. The hundreds of companies out there that are using this strategy will testify to that. Don’t underestimate the power of points, levels and badges. Employers can drive true loyalty and engagement just by thinking like a game developer and applying these mechanics. But don’t take my word for it because I’m not a gamification expert. I’m just a gaming worker. A by-product of that 70% who needs to be engaged and motivated between the harrowing hours of 9 to 5. Hopefully one day I get to see gamification get accepted and adapted into my work place, but I don’t know if upper management is ready for an idea such as this. What do you think? Should I inform them? If only my old boss were here. He would totally have my back on this!

Gamification in My Workplace

At my previous job I had a boss who was a gamer. He would always tell me stories of how he used to play Halo at work with his co-workers. This was before I was hired of course. Why is it that the real fun always starts and stops before you start working for the company? You always have to hear about how awesome the work place was before you started working there. But I digress. Back to the story. After work my boss and his buddies would log in, equip their load outs and have some good ol’ online, multiplayer fun. Now how awesome would that be?! A work place where playing video games was not frowned upon. The game of choice would be Destiny in my office. Nobody would go home! We would all be going on strikes and raids, grinding for the best loot and leveling up as much as possible. Now that’s what I call true gamification. For those of you who are lucky enough to work in the gaming industry or have a company culture that allows you to play video games at the office, I envy you. Cherish that privilege and never take it for granted. As for the rest of us gaming workers who are less fortunate might I suggest this next little life hack.

Treat Your Work Life Like a Game

This is what I use to gamify my experience at work. There is a great habit building app called HabitRPG that treats your life like a game. This free app is a habit tracker and a to-do list, but unlike other productivity apps this has incentives and offers rewards just like an actual role playing game would. You can collect in-game currency, accumulate experience points and level up your avatar every time you complete a daily task, positive habit or check off something from your to-do list. I’ve been using HabitRPG for a few weeks now and it honestly makes the daily grind at the office a little more fun. It actually motivates me to complete more of my tasks and to-dos because if I don’t I get penalized. I can lose health, experience, weapons and armour. It’s actually more punishing than some of the video games I play because if I die I lose everything and get drop kicked down a level. I’m still hovering at level 3 when I should be at least a level 6. I know now that I’ve set myself up to fail because all of the tasks that I have listed are not tasks that I do daily. This is why I keep dying so I have to revise my list. The point however is that the app works well. It does it’s job so that I can try to do more of mine. As I check things off I get rewarded with gold, silver and experience so that I can level up. I’ve basically found a way to play an RPG while I work. This is awesome because for gamers that’s what we’d rather be doing anyway. It’s nothing like playing on you PC or console, but it definitely helps to scratch the itch. Plus it makes the work day more interesting. There are social aspects as well. You can create groups and invite friends so that you can take on challenges and bosses together. It’s a powerful tool and I consider it to be as essential as any other office software that I use daily. Just log in via a web browser and the adventure begins. Every office should consider using this. It could be a great way to introduce the idea of gamification to your workers. They’ll love it whether they’re gamers or not. It would cost you absolutely nothing so you could essentially use this to test the waters at first. If the feedback from employees are positive then you could stick with it or look into integrating a more significant gamification platform into the workplace. There are services that can help. Companies such as Badgeville and Bunchball, who claim to be the number one leaders in the gamification space, work to create gamified experiences for every business. But until you’re ready to commit at that level I’d suggest starting of with HabitRPG. Click on the image below to see what my habit and to-do lists look like.


Game/Work Life Hacks

Alternative life hacks include simply just gaming on your smart phone and/or hand held gaming devices at work. Of course the only opportune time would be during your lunch hour. Not enough time, I know. How does the idea of gamification sound to you now?


Rajat Paharia. (2013, September 13). Loyalty 3.0: Big Data and Gamification (GSummit SF 2013) [YouYube]. Retrieved from

For more information about gamification please click here.

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