Despite the obviously trolling title, the latest research report from Brian Burke at Gartner Group has some sobering – and important – points for the Gamification community to heed. Particularly important is the idea that the simplest points-badges gamification approaches are unlikely to produce breakthrough results over multiple years.
If you’ve spent even 30 minutes following any of the amazing speakers at GSummit, seen any of my talks, read my books or given gamification more than a passing thought, this notion should be obvious. Clearly, unless we imbue our systems with the three Fs (Feedback, Friends and Fun), design for Progression to Mastery and leverage scalable, intangible rewards in the SAPS (Status, Access, Power and Stuff) model, we won’t be delivering on the true promise of gamification. But you already know this, so where’s the controversy?
The truth is that most loyalty programs do far more for their brands with way less thoughtfulness than we advocate in gamification. The vast majority of these programs are buy-10-get-one-free, or simple earn-and-burn designs, and to hear their proprietors speak, they are working just fine…thank you. And by the same token, the simple gamification designs that neophytes like (and those pilloried by Burke and others), seem to also be producing results without qualification.
This, I believe, is a reflection less of the power of simple gamification than the banality of everyday life. Because most interactions in the world are so inane, the introduction of even the smallest amount of surprise and delight, progress and points can have an outsized effect. Initially, users will respond to this in a positive light, and the “getting something for nothing” mentality should drive a first positive bump in “E” metric engagement (Recency, Frequency, Duration, Virality and Ratings).
So why am I constantly pushing gamification practitioners to do more, think deeper and design smarter? Simply put: scalable user engagement is a process of continuous improvement. We can — and should — start with a Minimum Viable Product, but to ensure ongoing customer and employee performance we need to keep them moving forward – and that requires care and an agile approach to development. As I’m fond of saying, gamification is a process — not a destination — and the sooner you acknowledge the substantive ongoing investment it requires, the better your programs will be.
So, while Gartner lays out a dystopic view for (enterprise) gamification without clear redemption, I view Brian’s research as an excellent rallying cry. All the data we see showcase clear, exponential growth for gamification across sectors in 2013. To keep that momentum going, we’ll need more certified designers, continued sharing of best practices and a commitment to gamification as a process.
All the folks I know in the industry are absolutely on that train. Are you?
Commit to making the world a more fun, engaging place – and start by earning your certification at GSummit 2013.
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