Gamification is everywhere you look – in mobile phone apps that reward prizes for journaling seven days in a row, to office spaces designed for both the occasional chitchat and for highly focused work. But is gamification anything more than a fancy buzzword, destined to go the way of other overhyped technologies?
According to Jan Storgard, Sector Lead for Digital and Creative Industries at Anglia Ruskin University, the chances of that happening are very low, because gamification is all about how humans ‘play’ – and humans have been playing for millennia.
“A game is anything that makes you excited,” says Dr. Storgard. Dr. Storgard leads REACTOR, an academic-industry programme focusing on gamifying products and services. At present, close to 40 startups are working with Dr. Storgard’s team to see how they can incorporate gaming principles into their product. According to Dr. Storgard, the best games are the ones where you are so engrossed in the gameplay, you forget you are playing – and it this feeling of being completely ‘in the flow’ that game designers try to emulate.
Gamification can also be used in solving real world problems, say for improving the optimal use of office space or changing how employees use office resources.
One such example is the use of gamified apps to improve energy efficiency in smart buildings. The data generated by ambient sensors could be communicated to the building occupiers using gaming techniques, making the consumer more inclined to reduce wastage of resources.
However, Dr. Storgard warns against doing too much too soon. “A lot of companies are adopting a few aspects of gamification without a scientific approach. If you want to introduce games in your product, hire game designers who know the scientific aspects of game play,” he adds.