Gami…what? How to make innovation fun

Photo: Arina P Habich@Shutterstock

We’ve said that gamification mechanics can make innovation management initiatives more appealing and successful, while drawing your people’s attention to key business challenges. But how exactly does this happen?

Since the dawn of civilisation, generations have learned through games. From learning basic numbers and letters to eating and caring for others, games help transform boring activities.

There’s nothing wrong with fun. In fact, in modern society – including the corporate world – interacting and ‘playing’ with the Internet and mobile apps are part of our daily routine. You may not notice it, but most apps are actually productivity tools, with gamification to make them more attractive.

What is gamification all about?
Gamification is the use of game elements and design techniques in non-game contexts. These elements (also called ‘game mechanics’) include:

  • Points
  • Quests
  • Avatars
  • Social graphs (interaction)
  • Levels
  • Progression
  • Badges

Design techniques are used to make participation fun, while non-game contexts entail that the participant’s goal is other than success in the game. Anyway, a game is only a game when it’s voluntary. A handful of gamification characteristics make the process fun, attractive and engaging:

  • Feedback (immediate and constant)
  • Transparency (clear rules and visibility in the process and progression)
  • Progression (sense of moving forward)
  • Social interaction (knowledge sharing, competition and collaboration)
  • Recognition (badges, points and leaderboards)

Who’s in?
Gamification aims at making an activity enjoyable for participants, and this pleasure is achieved when the participant is ‘in the flow’. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, an expert on the topic of happiness, describes being in the flow as ‘being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the precious one…’

The ‘flow’ needs to fall between boredom (too easy) and anxiety (too hard/confusing). The difficulty lies in making people feel in the flow. And this becomes even more complex when the community isn’t necessarily homogeneous – people sharing interests.

World of Warcraft players have a common interest – enjoying the game – but the same doesn’t always happen for employees of Company X. The challenge is how to construct the process so that everyone, or at least the majority of people, will feel in the flow.

To engage as many players as possible, the designer must first understand their different profiles. We’ll see how you can identify them in our next post.

Get to know your players

Gamifying innovation: How to engage your people in key business challenges

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s CEO and co-founder/
Francisco Rhodes Sérgio, VP Inbound Strategy and Sales – Latin America /

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