Gamification is traditionally defined as the use of game mechanics in non-game business scenarios to change user behaviors to achieve specific outcomes. Eliminate the jargon, and what you have is a seemingly magical way to motivate people to do what you want them to do. Utopian indeed, but does this really work? Let’s find out.
A user selects an avatar to start the game at Level 0 and must progress to Level 3 in a fixed time. Along the way to achieve the quest, the user will face challenges, accumulate or lose points, win badges, and achieve a certain score, all the while tracking their progress onscreen. The user also gets feedback on their journey. Scores of all users will be posted on a leaderboard, and create a community of gamers who can then share their experiences and leverage their learning.
This is what a typical game storyline looks like. So what’s so complicated about it? Anyone who knows the core concept of the game can ace it, right? Wrong. As Dumbledore says, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, “It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” A good game too is not so much about what you know as it is about how you apply that knowledge to make logical choices. The game maps these choices and, much like a Pensieve would, siphons relevant insights and stores them to analyze them and derive patterns later. These insights enable organizations to analyze productivity, motivation, and engagement themes, and create and refine real-world incentives and infuse work environments with “culture”.
A few guardrails for deploying gamification in an organizational setting:
The sole purpose of gamification in learning is to make the achievement of goals addictive. It’s not just about positive reinforcement anymore, but about uncovering negative behavioral patterns and devising ways to enable users to overcome them. At the end of the day, everyone needs autonomy, mastery, purpose, progress, and social interactions to grow and thrive in the workplace. Gamification makes each of these possible, albeit virtually.
On a parting note, if you want to see gamification innovation in action, give Bandersnatch on Netflix a shot. The movie allows the viewer to build the storyline as they go along, tackling multiple challenges on behalf of the protagonist. Bandersnatch is replete with complex narrative loops that guide the viewer back to the main story when they stray too far, 5 possible endings, and clearly, an unfathomable number of permutations for the overall decision tree of the viewer. Applied to an organizational context, these learnings underline the importance of providing users with choices, reinforcing their correct decisions, and getting them to invest in the narrative of their own performance.
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– By Charulata Razdan, Senior Manager – Instructional Design at MPS Interactive