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Answering Your Top Gamification Questions

Answering Your Top Gamification Questions

Rajat Paharia


By Rajat Paharia, Founder and Chief Product Officer

This month, we tried a new approach with our Bunchball gamification webinar series. Usually, we select a topic, prepare the presentation, and then invite people to register and attend. This time, we let you, the attendees, determine how we should focus the conversation. We called the webinar, "Your Top Gamification Questions ANSWERED," and when folks registered for it, we asked them to submit questions for consideration.

Answering Your Top Gamification QuestionsThe response was tremendous—we fielded more than 300 questions in all and found that essentially, they broke down into three large buckets: 1) getting started, 2) strategy and 3) implementation. Let me give you a few highlights of what we discussed.

Getting Started

The majority of the questions we received were variations of "What is gamification, exactly?" and "How can I use it?" Even though gamification is an established, proven business tool, I can understand why there's still so much confusion surrounding it. After all, when people first hear the term "gamification," they often think it's about games, or entertainment or fun. In reality, though, gamification isn't about any of those things. Gamification is about motivating better performance (from employees, customers and/or partners) and generating hard ROI for your business.

To be effective, your gamification project must be directly tied to a business goal. The whole idea is to take data that's already being created and route it back to the user so that person can be inspired to take actions that have a direct, positive impact on your company's bottom line.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, "What Does Gamification Look Like?" I've started telling people to think of gamification as a fitness tracker for work. You're familiar with fitness trackers like FitBit and the Nike FuelBand, right? When you wear one of them, you get unprecedented visibility into a range of personal metrics, plus you can track your activities over time, work towards goals, and compete and collaborate with communities of people—all of which can motivate you to perform better.

Now imagine the kinds of insights you could gain by implementing a "fitness tracker for work," a solution that would allow you to track and analyze all the data that's generated when spend interacting with your systems—whether it's a CRM, an LMS, an app, website or any other tool. That's what gamification is. It allows you to capture the data from existing processes and then leverage it for insights. With the right gamification platform, you can inspire people to take actions that help you meet your business goals.


When people have questions about strategy, I always remind them that to succeed with gamification, you can't just slap on tactics (badges, leaderboards and the like) and hope for the best. You really need a comprehensive strategy, one that's tied to your business objectives, grounded in intrinsic motivation and customized for your business needs. In the webinar, I discuss the seven steps of a solid gamification strategy:

  1. Identify the problem. (What are we trying to do?)
  2. Identify your audience. (Who are our users?)
  3. Identify the desired behaviors. (What do we want them to do?)
  4. Establish your KPIs. (How will we measure?)
  5. Create a mission statement. (What is the goal?)
  6. Understand the playing field. (What are the boundaries?)
  7. Calculate ROI. (How will we justify this?)

I talk about each step in detail, and I'll stress here just as I did then: At any point after Step 2, get expert guidance!


When the gamification industry started, "one size fits all" solutions were the norm; however, there has been massive evolution since then. At Bunchball, we believe in a tailored approach that integrates gamification with your existing processes and KPIs. With a tailored approach, people only see the goals that are relevant to them, and that gives the experience much more texture and relevance.

To help you implement an effective gamification solution, I suggest that you:

  1. Think with (story) arcs.
  2. Put levels and goals on a curve.
  3. Keep it fresh.
  4. Use progressive disclosure and personalization.
  5. Enable participants to share their accomplishments.
  6. Deliver surprise and delight.
  7. Be (slightly) unpredictable.
  8. Beware of unintended consequences.
  9. Game the system.
  10. Enable peer recognition.

For much more about each of these implementation tips and answers to the questions above–and much more about gamification in general—I highly recommend watching the entire on-demand webinar, "Your Top Gamification Questions ANSWERED."

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