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Gamification Brings Play to the Everyday

The Gamification Summit LogoGaming outside of the traditional confines of entertainment is growing in acceptance and, as we’ve reported on Game Forward, is regularly breaking into new areas. Whether you are talking about serious games or the newer concept of “gamification,” integrating games into every day life can lead to a major boost in user engagement and interest.

The new concept was the subject of the first-ever Gamification Summit, held in San Francisco from January 20-21, 2011, and is fast becoming a new must in marketing. The Summit introduced a sold-out crowd to how “game mechanics and the new science of engagement are rewriting the rules of brand marketing, product design and customer acquisition.” Read More...

The event featured dozens of speakers including Summit chair Gabe Zichermann, author of Game-Based Marketing, Amy Jo Kim, co-founder of social network game developer Shufflebrain, and Dr. Jane McGonigal, Director of Game Research and Development at the Institute for the Future, Creative Director of games for change developer Social Chocolate and author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World among many others. They each took turns describing their interpretation of gamification and how game-like mechanics have the ability to get us hooked on a variety of activities by fulfilling a innate need to be challenged.

A few companies are already integrating the concept to their business models. For example, Experts Exchange brings together IT experts from around the world, competing to best answer questions from users who assign a point value to their queries. The website even includes a Hall of Fame leaderboard listing the top 25 experts in a year and overall. Other such endeavours are chronicled in Gabe Zichermann’s Gamification Blog.

The concept itself is turned into a commodity through gamification services such as Gamify, which offers the Gamification Platform and also runs the Gamification Encyclopedia, as well as Bunchball with its Nitro Participation Engine. Achievement points, badges, awards or trophies are all gamification rewards companies can add to their websites, for example, which users earn for otherwise thankless tasks.

Gamification seems to exist parallel to the concept of serious gaming, which also uses game mechanics to achieve nobler goals than to strictly entertain. Whether a game’s purpose is to encourage players to find innovative solution to world problems, learn about math, history or language, acquire and hone work skills, or feel motivate to work toward a specific fitness goal, the medium is boosting user interest and lending itself to a variety of purposes. Any way you look at the integration of games in every day activities, gamification is the decade’s newest buzz word.