Gamification: 3 mistakes to avoid when starting a project

“Gamification” is a word that is increasingly becoming part of the vocabulary of Italian businesses and in the world of corporate training. As often happens in these cases, after an initial phase of great interest and curiosity, the focus of businesses moves towards questions concerning application. Gartner Groupstated that by 2014, 80% of current “gamified” applications would fail to achieve corporate goals due to design errors. Was that really the case? We cannot know for sure, but what we can see is that businesses probably still lack “instructions for use” capable of transforming an innovative and potentially revolutionary idea into concrete and, above all, effective change. Starting a process of Gamification in a company can often turn out to be anything but simple and, compared to other training projects, probably requires a more cross and multi-disciplinary team, greater incubation time, a strong mandate and management support. The first step to avoid being stranded is to be aware of the typical mistakes that characterise the start of this type of project. First Mistake: Confusing technologies with the methodologies The first obstacle is represented by a recurring misunderstanding that leads to equating gamification to a purely technological aspect. Indeed, Gamification is a strategy and therefore does not imply the adoption of certain tools, hardware or software. In other words, there is no package of technology that, with initial investment, allows a business to produce “gamified” products. Gamification can be applied in multiple forms (which can vary) and have substantially different budgets. Therefore, whoever thinks that adopting Gamification means producing something similar to a video game is way off the mark: the choice of which gaming dynamics to use and how to do so can be calibrated on the budget and the technology available to the company. Some advice? You can also create “gamified” courses using Authoring tools for the self-production of e-learning courses. Second Mistake: limited to “pointsification The purpose of a gaming strategy is to create engagement, namely to increase user involvement. To create involvement, you need to develop consistent and significant gaming experiences, using a combination of elements that best suits the goals you wish to pursue. If the strategy is merely to add points or badges, with no precise plan, the result will be poor, unsatisfactory and of little value to users, which means that there will be a high tendency to abandon. Indeed, the mere act of performing particular tasks to gain “exclusive” points or badges provides players with no gaming interaction nor does it increase their motivation. In all these cases, the terms we use are pointsification or badgeification, which can be seen as a deviation from and degeneration of Gamification. The piece of advice, in this case, is to invest in design while avoiding the use of preconceived formulas and automatisms that, in the world of training and e-learning, in particular, are the worst enemies of the quality and effectiveness of teaching. Third Mistake: ignoring the target Many companies that start to design a Gamification course often wonder: “where should we start?” The design of any training programme can only be centered around its target, which also applies if you choose to adopt the use of typical gaming mechanisms and dynamics, with a fundamental shift: in this case, we have to understand that, first and foremost, we are dealing with players. However, not all players are the same: every player is motivated by something different. So, how do you figure out what motivates each of our users? Bartle can give us a hand: in 1996 he identified 4 player profiles based on their personality traits and approach towards the gaming experience: killers, achievers, explorers and socialisers. For example, the Bartle analysis allows us to see that it is essential to include a performance ranking and the opportunity to compete and challenge other users in a course aimed at “killers”, while this aspect is marginal if the group consists mostly of “explorers”, who derive their motivation from their interaction with the course, discovery and sharing of information. The advice here is therefore to get to know your target properly before beginning the design phase, otherwise you risk investing resources and energy in the wrong direction. To this end, the Bartle test is a useful tool and consists of a questionnaire that is able to define the psychological profile of user-players. The topic was discussed in posterLab no. 24: “Gamification” Vincenzo Petruzzi

written by: Vincenzo Petruzzi , 14 June 2016

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