Game to Innovate

Game to Innovate

Hi everyone, RS here. Today’s topic is on one of the things I enjoy reading about and love to implement in my work whenever it’s relevant: Gamification! 

Gamification is quite the trendy buzzword in corporate these days, and for good reason – when it works, it really works.  

Gamification – A Quick Rundown! 

For those who’ve never heard the term before, it’s a design approach that strategically incorporates game mechanics into any product, service, experience, or even workflow and business practices to increase engagement as well as encourage desired behaviour. 

If you knew that already, add +2 to your score!

…See how that works? Chances are, for a brief moment, you were tempted to engage the rest of this article to see what else might give you points – even though these points are effectively arbitrary. But it’s fun (just a tiny bit), and gives you a reason to read on, doesn’t it?  

This particular example taps into the competitive nature inherent in human behaviour, as well as provides an opportunity to challenge your knowledge against a structured system to invoke your curiosity further. This point system is one of many mechanics used to gamify an experience; this is just the tip of the iceberg, and it conveys just how effective gamification can be even on a surface level.  

When gamification is done right, it can be great. It goes straight to the roots of human-centred design – it’s not just about making something for people to use, it’s about making something people want to use. While this engagement is, of course, good for profits, it can also cultivate a genuine and positive change in behaviour for users . Think Fitbit and Loselt; they promote a healthier lifestyle for users – all while making exercise a little more fun. It’s also highly effective in education; engaging young children, encouraging curiosity and stoking a desire to learn and get better at a skill.  

There’s a reason why video games are so incredibly attractive and why the gaming industry has by far the highest financial gross among the entertainment industry (approximately 267% of the movie and music industries combined in 2020). Harnessing some of that power of motivation for other tasks is in essence what gamification is about. 

Let’s keep the game going! Add +2 to your score if you already knew that the video game industry eclipses the other industries. 

I can go on and on about gamification (it’s far more than just points, achievements and badges), but for today, let’s talk about gamification and how it relates to innovation. 

Gamification In Innovation 

The main usage of gamification in innovation, in my view, is as a supplement to the design process as a part of user-centred design. It can be used to better empathise, understand, influence and predict user behaviour in or around the context of designing the initial MVP to create an inherently desirable product, or as a transformative end tool to drive engagement as the primary objective from a high-level perspective.  

More interestingly, gamification can actually also be seen as a type of innovation – more specifically, process innovation. In a 2021 review published by the International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management, a ‘Gamification-as-Innovation’ paradigm was proposed to formally contextualise gamification as a transformative process. 

If you’ve read this academic review before, take another +2 points! 

When we view gamification in the same perspective as innovation, gamification then becomes subject to all the usual boundaries and considerations that regular innovation practices have – that is, to be bound by viability and feasibility.  

A gamified innovation process still needs to be commercially viable – it might be really cool to create a personalised reward system for every person in the world tailored to their specific hobbies in exchange for work and engagement, but if you can’t source these rewards easily or afford their manufacturing and logistical costs, then it’s just not happening. Cut the scale and keep it real. 

Likewise, you could design the greatest conceptual therapeutic service ever created using an immersive Full-Dive VR as the vehicle. It just cannot exist given today’s technology, so such a gamified solution would simply not be technically feasible. Settle for AR Glasses for the present and design around that. At most, anticipate the widespread commercialisation of haptic deep-dive VR and prepare for the transition when the technology becomes both feasible and viable. 

Just like every other tool in the innovator’s toolkit, the gamification process is not a complete solution in itself – it needs to be strategically applied and combined with other design principles to create a truly innovative and successful outcome. 

Ready, Set. 

Gamification is a valuable skill that designers should add to their design toolkit. It’s also good fun to study, especially if you’re into sports, reading, movies, people watching, and of course, gaming in general. The concept as a whole is relatively young and can be further explored, and I can’t wait to witness or discover the crazy and creative ways it transforms and revolutionises innovation in the future.  

Here’s another +4 points for getting to the end. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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