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Welcome to Gamification

Welcome to Gamification

Caitlin Donaldson


By Caitlin Donaldson, Data Analyst

I began working as a Data Analyst at Bunchball 4 months ago so I’m still relatively new to the world of gamification.  From the first time I learned of the concept, I was fascinated by its potential.  It is an idea that has been around for years with examples like the Girl Scouts and airplane loyalty programs.  Gamification is not only refining this form of motivation, but also adapting it to the digital world we live in today.

Here are some common misconceptions I’ve found that may help your understanding of gamification:

  • It’s about the application of game mechanics, not playing games
  • It’s impact is not limited to specific demographics; gamification captivates human desires inherent to all of us
  • It can be used in a wide variety of situations, from audience engagement to employee motivation

I discovered more about human behavior from gamification than I initially believed I could get in such a short period of time.  I learned the importance of reduced feedback loops to help maintain consistent, or growing, levels of interest.  I have learned the variety of factors needed to be included in the design, including sufficient rewards and increasingly difficult challenges from application of the Theory of Flow.  Gamification only works in the long term if it is done right. (Barry Kirk wrote an especially insightful article about the importance of design here.)

My background in Economics, including a Master’s degree, has me well versed in how important the right motivation factor is in human behavior.  Economics has a strong focus on why people act in the way they do.  Just look at opportunity cost, a concept you learn in Economics 101.  This is the idea that people will make a decision to do something based off of the next best alternative.  How much am I willing to give up for something?  Opportunity cost weighs heavily in gamification through loss aversion.  For example, the decision not to become involved in a community on a website or become familiar with a CRM solution is made difficult with gamification due to the potential loss of status and recognition earned through leaderboards, badges, and points.

Although I may be new to gamification, I am not new to analytics.  I have 5 years of experience in the field.  This experience allows me to know how impressive the numbers I am seeing are.  Various measures are constantly showing us how integration of Nitro and great design can make a big impact.  I am amazed at the effect gamification has in both the short and long term.  Companies are realizing greater engagement, with users taking 20 – 530% more actions.  MTV is one great example with 530% more page views.  On the enterprise side, there is increased adoption of enterprise tools such as Jive and Salesforce.  Month-over-month Bluewolf’s employees visit their site 20% more than before instituting gamification.     

I am excited to be at Bunchball and look forward to many years of insights.  Analysis of big data is constantly progressing and I look forward to experiencing how we will continue to evolve around gamification practice and workforce analytics. 

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