Gamification’s Next Step: Engage the Next Generation with a Civic Engagement
This is an Op-Ed by Kabir Ahmad, CEO & Lead Analyst of Gamification Research (concern of Mind Commerce), a Research & Consultancy firm based in Colorado. Kabir earned this Op-Ed by being a Top Gamification Guru
Gamification is at the point where it is surpassing its infant stage of creating PBL (point-badge-leaderboard) experiences, which were typically met with enormous initial successs followed by gradual deterioration.
Gamification is now headed towards solving real business problems with innovative game-play (beyond PBL techniques) by motivating action with civic engagement. It is evident that the industry will soon revamp its approach from designing just for engagement to include engagement tactics that infuses is users with a much greater purpose. While this is a very promising idea, the industry is still does not understand, address and reflect the millennial expectations – which can also explain the failure of most shallow PBL-based designs.
The Millennial Mindset and Shifting Preferences
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in US, the millennials of Generation Y is comprised of 100 million people (under the age of 18-37) and is estimated to reach 88.5 million by 2020. These numbers are not just unique to the US and in reality, millennials have started playing a crucial and influential role on rebuilding civic life, workplace, and education around the world. What’s most significant about millennials, is that their beliefs vary significantly from the baby boomers of generation X.
The beliefs of Generation Y will soon permeate the entire workforce and dictate how it will be run. A Pew study described millennials with these following traits that everyone needs to consider:
43% of Millennials play social games on internet
Nearly 100% are digitally connected & they build their own social environment; they are also coined as “Digital Natives”
They are outcome driven and are not process and multitasking extraordinaires
They are focused on extrinsic life goals and less concerned for others or civic engagement
Overly self-confident, entitlement, and self-absorbed are common personality traits
It is pretty much clear that millennials are going to drive a cultural shift to remake the digital landscape and their playful, diverse and self-empowerment mindsets will be what influence these changes. Their driving factors of engagement will have to include intelligent responses and civic learning that isn’t limited to mere purposive solution or engagement. Gamification needs to comprehend and embrace the millennial trend in the industry approach.
The Civic Economy and Gamification
The boon of social media and digital games have already transformed the standard ideas of civic participation into something that is now networked, response driven, mobile, local, playful and achievable.
This new civic process starts with pursuing self interest, desire, and needs followed by a meaningful participation in a system that produces engagement through intelligent civic responses. The ultimate goal for millenials is to educate communities and engage them with meaningful participation in planning processes for those same communities, while empowering other community members to do the same. This cycle of outcomes formulates a new economy called a “civic economy”.
The new civic economy is a promising way of transforming the world in the eyes of the millennial, who are motivated to act for civic purposes. Whereas today, contributions for social good are driven by standard boring participatory practices and far less likely to motivate Generation Y. Millennials are on the forefront of the new civic economy and gamification has a good chance to become the driving force of a civic economy if the approach is tactfully designed.
Tactical Gamification Approach
The current approach towards gamification should involve adopting tactical plans that can demonstrate short-term results, as well as long term changes in the future. Gamification programs can deliberately encourage civic participation in a variety of ways like crowdsourcing, sharing economies, and creating user-generated content, which can all be used to generate a totally new innovative civic practice.
A perfect example is the iPhone game “Run that Town” developed and run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The game allows users to decorate and manage their own city based on real world data while collecting genuine census data. This design produces clusters of intelligent civic responses for Australian Bureau of Statistics that they can utilize transforming city neighborhood. Every gamified program, whether it is business or social, needs to adopt this tactical approach to gain civic advantage from its users.
These results can be achieved if the gamification design has these key features:
Meaningful vision – It should show users that their actions are for a greater good and and can build upon itself to initiate long-term change
Contexts for civic learning – Actions and feedback should should represent that of the community the user is in.
Focused participation – Actions should be focused on one common goal for the most meaningful responses and feedback
Community responses – a community network should exist to support all those involved and should build upon itself over-time to scale.
Fast Results – Systems need to be able to quickly show user actions have an effect to keep users engaged
Value – Using the program needs to be a low-risk proposition with high-reward potential.
Incoming Civic Sensibility Workplace
The BYOD (bring your own device) trend in the corporate world is shaping up to be one of the most significant changes in the workplace. The millennial workforce is the most authority-phobic generations to have ever existed and BYOD policies will empower them with more creativity and decision-making power.
As the top-down bureaucracy disappears from management, business leaders will have to embrace the bottom-up approach where employees can exercise more power to spend experimental capital to create innovative leadership strategies. Thus, the next radical change in corporate world will become social . A tactical gamification approach falls under this trend and will likely produce the best future outcome for an organization.
Every business needs to observe this millennial social transformation carefully and engage with civic economies rather than jumping into pre-set gamified experiences. Looking beyond the PBL triads and bridging millennial expectations and tendencies with the program are the fundamental to create a sustainable gamification approach. Only tactical gamification practices can generate such massive scale business successes that can satisfy all stakeholders.
Flickr CC Image by Kilgub