Gamification at Internet Week New York

Gamification at Internet Week New York


As an attendee of Internet Week New York (IWNY), my eyes, ears and engagement tentacles were all focused on gamification. A few campaigns featured gamified elements, and United Health sponsored an event with some strong elements of gamification. Day 1 at the IWNY HQ proved to include gamification in a subtle way, which means there was no specific mention of it, but it did exist in its own right. In terms of gamification, two companies and one competitive and passionate speaker stood out to me.

Senator Chuck Schumer kicked the week off  with a speech on New York’s goal thrives to be #1. What I didn’t realize is that the plan was to be #1 in nearly every category (except auto and agriculture). Senator Schumer emphasized that he wants to be #1 in high-tech. He stated that we are currently number two, between long standing champ, Silicon Valley and our recent move ahead of Boston. His plan is to beat Valley by 2035. The Senator may not realize it, but he is playing in a real life game with a real life leaderboard.

FordFocusHuntIn addition to their awesome dashboard and MyFord Mobile, Ford gamified their sponsorship at IWNY with the Ford Focus Hunt by providing a QR code game for all attendees. The prize was two tickets to be chauffeured to the Webby Awards in a Ford Focus and spend one night in a NYC hotel. The second company, AOL had a contest for attendees for a chance to be featured on the AOL homepage—”You’ve Got…Star Power.” They asked attendees to pick their favorite viral video and present it on camera. Lucky winners got their video pitch on the AOL homepage for 13 million people to see.

On the final day, UnitedHealth Group’s Mobile Health and Technology Panel had a strong element of gamification. The panel was moderated by Steve Lohr from The New York Times and consisted of a representatives from Microsoft (Hemang Patel), Qualcomm (Robert Jarrin), Lose It! (Charles Teague), Garmin (Tom Marchioro), New York eHealth Collaborative (Dave Whitlinger) and UnitedHealth Group (Bud Flagstad).

Two of the panelists showed off their health gadgets—one of them being a FitBit. The word “gaming” came up fairly early in the panel and then the term gamification was brought up from a member of the audience, which sparked some excitement on stage.

UnitedHealth Group (UH) was the first to mention gaming. In some of their tests, they’re using gaming to get obese adolescents to lose weight. UH also touched on their gamified call center—an example of gamification in the workplace. They’ve found that adding game mechanics to their call center has increased efficiency. Microsoft jumped in to talk about Xbox Kinect and their Avatar Health game that has yet to be released—avatars that reflect the actual health of the real life user.

I had the opportunity to speak to a few of the panelists. One being Charles Teague from Lose It!. If you take the Biggest Loser, shrink it to fit on an app, and then take away the competitive nature…voila! you have LoseIt! (check out our previous article for more). They are a great example of gamification used for a health purpose—not to mention the most downloaded free health app in iTunes. Teague mentioned that when he introduced badges in his app, customers initially said that the badges were ridiculous—a typical “badge fatigue” comment. A few weeks after the release,Teague noticed a change. People started asking for badges for all their accomplishments. They were going badge crazy!

The best takeaway from IWNY as a whole was that gamification is helping the future of healthcare. With tools like the smartphone, FitBit, and awesome developers like the team at LoseIt!, healthcare can become more “selfcare”—easier and cheaper to be healthy on your own.

To gamify this blog post, I created a little scavenger hunt within the write-up. There’s a 20% discount code to the NYC Gamification Summit this September 15 & 16 hidden in this article. Every time you see the word “gamification,” take the lastletter of the word previous to the word “gamification” and takenote. The code is all those letters put together in order.Email me, for a hint.


Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.


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