Review: Gamification Revolution by Gabe Zichermann and Joselin Linder

Gamification Revolution: How Leaders Leverage Game Mechanics To Crush the Competition by Gabe Zichermann and Joselin Linder helps explain how games are changing the world of business.

When it comes to playing games, most people think of video console games or tablet/phone apps that help distract the player from the drudgery of work. But the gaming field also includes sports, card games, and board games and the old paradigm that games only serve as fun and recreation is radically changing. In Gamification Revolution, we explore this shift in culture and see how business leaders are now using games to their advantage.

The authors start us off by presenting a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that captures the old paradigm, “When you play, play hard: when you work, don’t play at all.” This has been the conventional attitude that has defined what it means to have a sound work ethic.

As games evolved and entered the corporate arena, the lines between work and play are increasingly becoming blurred. The emergence of technology, greater market competition and the need for organizations to grow and adapt has created the need for better mechanisms to accelerate learning and performance within companies. At the same time, these factors have also required that organization’s relate with their customers more consistently and authentically in order to gain quality insight on developing winning products and services. Games now serve as an “invaluable change agent” for corporations to meet these demands.

Gabe Zichermann on the Gamification Revolution (GSummit SF 2013)

The book cites a few interesting stats which illustrate the phenomenon of gamification as an actual revolution.

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How More Organizations Are Playing At Work

gamification-09As many of you are well aware, the potential of gamification extends far beyond recreational fun. And 2013 was the year that a new book was published exploring this exact topic. It’s called Play at Work: How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking by Adam Penenberg, a professor of journalism at New York University. He is also the assistant director at NYU’s business and economic program. As a media contributor, he has written for Fast Company, New York Times, Washington Post. He as also appeared on the Today Show, American Morning on CNN, ABC’s World News and Money Line.

Penenberg reminds us that games are everywhere. They are no longer thought of as being just for children and computer geeks. There is an endless array of  mobile game apps for kids of all ages. Twitter can be considered a game where interesting tweets can grow the number of RT’s and followers. There are also lottery games like Powerball, Take Five and Mega Millions. Nissan has even incorporated a game within their newest models to encourage drivers to compete for the best efficiency levels.

Traditional forms of teaching seek to inspire learning, creativity, divergent thought processes, personal productivity and smart problem solving.  As much as parents and teachers want to impart these lessons, they feel like obligatory lists of shoulds and to-do’s for most people.  But when these objectives are integrated with thoughtful game design, they can be met quite easily and effortlessly. This dynamic has led to the development of highly innovative and practical applications for learning and productivity,  particularly for business organizations, science,  medicine, technology and culture.

The use of game mechanics within the workplace and other fields which depend on innovation has led to phenomenal results. Not only is information being easily assimilated and remembered, but also being applied effectively in real situations. And through quality game design, purposeful ideas and solutions are being generated at a faster rate than ever before.

Penenberg feels that mundane tasks can turn into fun activities that employees would actually be motivated to play. But this is not to say that games should be designed as efforts to squeeze more productivity out of them. Instead, the objective of the game design should be to cultivate a sense of fulfillment, engagement and satisfaction. With this intent, games can be designed to truly provide enriching and rewarding growth experiences, instead of bribing players with points.

Play at Work cites examples such as Google, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Loreal, Canon, Wells Fargo, Lexus, FedEx, UPS and IBM.

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