Gamification is not just a national hype as it drives from game mechanics as well as various other arts and sciences. Games stem from play, humanity’s natural form of learning. As play is universal, gamification is an international sensation that is providing many solutions in B2E, B2C, and B2B contexts all over the world. However, there are various ways in which different cultures play games, and this translates to how gamification solutions are designed by designers and perceived by users.
We had the opportunity to interview Siddhesh Bhobe, CEO of eMee—India’s major social gamification platform. One could say that eMee is the Indian version of Big Door, Bunchball, Badgeville, and other various gamification platforms. Talking about concepts from gamification in India to recent successes to the future of Indian gamification, Siddhesh shed some much-needed light on international gamification practices.
What is the view of gamification in India? Its purpose?
Gamification, as well as games, is still in its infancy in India. While social media is generally accepted, the biggest challenge is convincing stakeholders that games have a place in the workplace. As a result, the barrier to adoption is very high.
Once enterprises actually see a demo of what is possible, and how other organizations are using the concept of gamification effectively, the road is much smoother. At eMee, pilot studies/demos have been the best way to convince management that game principles contribute to learning and productivity.
The biggest promise gamification brings is that it is a proper solution for many organizations. Most organizations have adopted IT and automation very strongly and effectively, and achieved the first level of integration/productivity/efficiency. Excited about the first wave of success, IT is looking for ways to do it better—gamification provides that.
In what capacities is gamification used (ex. enterprise, learning, commercial, etc.) at eMee? What are some deliverable results you can tell us in terms of success rates?
Crowdsourcing of performance appraisal, continuous feedback and mentoring—a typical HR use case—we started off with deploying eMee at Persistent itself for a global workforce of over 7000 employees.
Platform for a technology forum called Ninja Club at BMC Software—with virtual avatars and collaborative interactions, the idea is to bring back the fun and glamour associated with being a hard core techie—something that is missing in India, where managers are given more respect.
Platform for rewarding behavior in line with a company’s value system
Social eLearning and collaborative knowledge management—currently in the works of being deployed.
Engagement analytics based loyalty program and customer engagement gamification—deployed at multiple eCommerce portals, including India’s first loyalty program for cab companies.
Training and managing the sales team—helping them understand which opportunities to go after, by mapping it into a simple and fun to learn fishing game
Results: Referring to part (5), increase in 15-20% in repeat customers/trips, and increase by more than 10x on average in user visits to website, at TCabs within a month of deployment of eMee’s loyalty program.
What do you see as the future of gamification in India?
Based on the size and age group (around 30% of the population are between the age of 14-24, the gaming age in India) of the potential user base, Siddhesh believes gamification is at the beginning of a major wave in India and countries with similar demographics.
However, he believes that India should start practicing appropriate game design practices to ensure that gamification is a facilitator to efficiency and productivity, not a hindrance.
Referring to the Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, Siddhesh believes that we should understand how India plays games as a culture so that games are designed with the proper logic that will be received well.
One important element derived from these dimensions is the concept of team and manager. Indians accept hierarchies. Therefore, managers want to see data for their “juniors”, people want to be able to control the “game” in respect of employees that report to them. While sharing and collaboration at an organization level is fine, most managers want to be able to see “everything possible” for “team members reporting to them”. Most workflows and data streams therefore need to have role based and hierarchy based access and authorization built in as a fundamental building block.
To me, it seems that gamification’s essence is the same throughout the world—gamification is a key to raising the level of efficiency and productivity in the workplace. The differences between each country’s gamification practices stem from the unique aspects to their own culture. Playing is human’s natural form of learning. Through cultural, social, geographical, educational, and various other upbringings, the future workforce views games differently. It is up to designers to realize these differences so design is not only unique to the enterprise, but also the society.