Podcast 38: What is a gamification strategy?

Welcome to this week’s question of gamification. My name is An Coppens. I’m the show host for this podcast and the CEO and founder of Gamification Nation. A question we get always or regularly asked, maybe not always, is what is a gamification strategy and why should I have one? Well. It’s one of the first things we will embark on with most of our clients.

Whether you design a serious game or design a gamified process. In effect, we always start with a strategy and some of the key questions we want answered in the strategy is why did you choose gamification? Now, strategies typically sits as a direction setting tool. Something that shows what’s the roadmap. What’s the thinking? Where are we going with this and why does it matter? So gamification strategy is no different.

So if you are for the first time going to be using games or, gamified processes, then the question is, why did you choose that tool of communication as opposed to other tools of communication?

Why did you eliminate the other tools? And. You know, what’s your thinking behind that? So we want to know what drove you to the up decision and why do you want to do that?

Very often we hear or we want to appeal to the younger audiences, so therefore we need to include games and gamification. It’s a good enough reason to include games and gamification if your audience is indeed of that generation, and if they are the kinds that actually do play games because believe it or not, although games are played by nearly 80% of the population these days and that’s including board games, sports, etc. As well as the digital video games, computer games, that we probably think of when we talk gaming, we also know that the average gamer is about 35, is probably male in some countries, female, but the split is, is 52-48 either side of the gender fence.

So it’s not something that is that much geared towards the younger generations. When we are saying, games are sort of the language young people speak, we do know that a young person today is likely to have played more games than they have actually done homework or studied for their courses. So there is a pinch of salt be with that.

Why is that? Because it’s much more accessible than let’s say, when I was a kid.  I’m a generation X’er so if anyone wants to know. So in my days the games I played were competitive sports. A lot of games at parties, which could have been board games but also physical games. I remember my birthday parties being very much driven around crossing obstacles in the garden.

And if you wanted to be safe to the other side, you went through a little puddle pool or other obstacle for that matter much to the enjoyment of some of the parents of older children that attended my parties. So you know why, why using a game is an important question to answer as part of your strategy.

I would also say, how does it then fit with the other strategies you have for your business? And if it is to attract younger audiences, yes, games can work. If it is to engage or retain more of the right people, whether that’s the right customers, the right clients, or the right employees. Games can be a good differentiator on that because you can basically build challenges into games and gamified processes that you wouldn’t necessarily find in traditional onboarding of a new client or onboarding of a new employee.

Games can work on multiple levels too. Give you insights that you wouldn’t get from regular communication patterns that exist in the market today. So, and it can be in a neat little test of how willing is your person to engage in play and does that fit with your culture.

And that brings us onto to an important point. Culture is important. So if this is your first venture into games or anything gamified, then I would say where does it fit in the longer term view strategy? Is it the start of more games and more gamification, or is it a once-off. It’s important to know  which it is.

If it is a once-off, then how long do you want it to have impact for? Why do you want to embark on it now? Is there a good reason to pick the area that you’ve picked it for or should there be other areas that may be have higher priority? If it’s the first of many, if it’s part of a longer term strategy or even a proof of concept. Will it work for us as our audience? Will they respond to it? Then, the question is where are you going to start? What’s the most meaningful place to start?

Sometimes your internal audience is good. Sometimes it’s better to start at recruitment and attracting new, a new, I suppose, generation of employees or a new type of employees through a game-based recruitment and game-based employer branding.

So there is more than one way to think about it. And what I would typically encourage people to do is to look at, okay, where does it fit into the overall company strategy? Why now? What’s the long term view of it? Is it once-off multiple and part of a larger strategy? If it is part of a larger strategy, what’s the best entry point?

Where does the proof of concept need to be proven first, and then which other areas would you think of rolling this out to next?

So if we think about gamification and gamification platform specifically, which help you basically to add game elements to existing business processes. When you’re going to invest in a gamification platform, you may as well look out more than one place to use it.

My advice would still be start with one place. Start even with one location, one team. Even if you want to go that granular to do a proof of concept. Fine tune the game play and the gamified elements that you’re using to that audience and then roll it out further little by little in phase steps.

That would be my advice. From a platform perspective though, the platform can plug in to typically any, system that has API or, abilities. So API is means you can connect,  IT systems to one another. So what you need to find out first is, can the system that you want to plug into accept two way streams of, of triggers, and then.

If it can, then you basically could apply gamification to anything from marketing, to sales, to operations, to anything to do with your employee life cycle, your customer life cycle. So you can plug it in pretty much anywhere. there is a system that allows for API’s to travel both ways.

If it is a game that you’re looking for, if it’s a serious game, typically the budgets are actually comparable to begin installation of a big, gamification platform.

Bespoke game can cost similar in the region, which is usually five figures, and upwards. And basically what you’re looking at is a reason to create a game. And I would always see where else can this be useful? Where else can it be deployed? What is it that’s going to add that extra bit of value?

What we also see and as gamification strategies go. We are often asked, yes, we will in the gamification for younger audiences. What we see in reality from data is that when serious games are built, it’s often the more senior generation in the workplace that plays more often than the younger generations.

My thinking, and this is not scientifically proven, but, my hunch is that it is actually new on a newer way of working for the older generation, whereas for the younger ones, it’s like, yeah, we expected that it’s business as usual, get over it. That type of attitude. Whereas for generations that have been in workplace for some time a game can allow you to test some of your thinking in a safe environment. It can allow you to play around with different mechanics that you didn’t think, we’re going to help or make things happen.

If we look at the reasons or the general feedback on gamification, we know from surveys that about 80 to 90% of people in the workplace thinks that gamification adds some value and will help them do their job better in a more productive way. So that’s a positive. And also that really good results are achieved with this.

Now, when I say really good results come from it. It means that when you’re setting your strategy, you have a clear vision on what the result is that you want to achieve.

And that’s also a question that we would ask as part of the strategy design process is what those good gamification or a good game look like to you, why and what will people feel like throughout the process and also what are the differences in feedback that you want.

So to give an example, we worked with a financial Institute awhile ago where their objective for gamified lead generation campaign was to increase their number of leads and converted leads. So good gamification for them was that there was actually real difference made in finding new leads and getting higher percentage.

For another company, it was a referral campaign that meant was gamified, and again, the amount of referrals they wanted to increase by 5%.  They had already done some groundwork and some campaigns in previous years so they knew they had a baseline figure of what they wanted to achieve.

What we find, typically speaking when we’re speaking to in house or internal facing, gamification audiences like HR and learning teams is, defining and quantifying is harder than when we’re speaking to sales and marketing teams.

And yet we do recommend that you do quantify it, and that you do find baseline numbers so that you know what you’re measuring against and you’ll know whether you are actually hitting the needle at all in towards the improvement that you want. Because for us, we’re happy to design you a game, but if it doesn’t get your results, then I feel we haven’t delivered on what it is we set out to do.

And sometimes when we’re not clear on what it is we set out to do, it’s hard to deliver on exactly that objective. So. from my perspective, it’s a case of making sure you have your objectives, right? The reasons why you engage in gamification, understanding where it sits in the larger strategy of the organization and of the team implementing it.

It has to be right for the audience. If your audience does not play games, does not want to engage in games, I wouldn’t even recommend, don’t know, don’t roll out a game. You know, it’s kind of basic, but it’s still important to note. The other thing is to make it relevant and to make it results focused.

So results focus for me is always important. I hate doing things for no reason or no good understandable reason was it might be fun. Fun and on its own is already very subjective. What I find fun, another person might find dead boring and vice versa. So. Yeah, fun is not a good enough reason. Age of the participants also not a good enough reason.

In both, young and old, there’s groups that play, there’s groups that don’t and you need to understand that about your audience. So yes. What is a gamification strategy? Well, it’s the strategy that decides where gamification fits, why it’s important to you, and it gives an idea of the strategy or the direction in which you want certain behaviors, certain changes, certain patterns to travel.

It should also tell us what does good look like? When is it successful? When, how’s it been a great? When has everyone adopted it? And what would you like to see at the end?

So I hope that answers the question, what is a gamification strategy? If you’re still not super clear, by all means, schedule a strategy gamification call and we can delve into a deeper, maybe more specific to your company and to your problem solving needs.

Thank you for listening, and if you like our podcast, do please share it to others. And if you have other questions, please ask and I’ll do my best to answer.


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