Gamification: the natural evolution of ICT

After IBM build its first commercial scientific computer in 1952, it took about 25 years before computers entered our homes. Only a lucky few could afford those. Although the internet was invented in 1969 a decade was needed before it became really popular. At first the computer was nothing more than a calculator and not similar to the ones we hold in our hands nowadays. Not even close! Having the size of a small building, those calculators couldn’t even match up to the power of the simplest versions we use today.

Soon after people used computers to store and find data. Now information could be retrieved through data systems. New developments and innovations followed in a fast pace. The internet opened up lots of new opportunities. PC’s became really powerful and this made it possible to work with high quality graphics.

When the internet became affordable this was the beginning of a new era. Connecting people all over the world became possible.

 These important phases formed the foundation of two important markets that exist today:

  1. Professional software industry.  
  2. Video game industry.

Looking at the professional software industry, learns us that there is not much left to improve. Sure, everything will be faster and the industry will come with new ways to display stuff. But this industry has reached a level in which we know how to make things work. Everything functions just fine. It’s a craft we master for a long time now. ICT in many ways has become a commodity. I don’t expect big innovations in that area anytime soon.

There is one big exception: adding game elements to professional software. Not limit it to adding points, badges and leader boards, use everything we learned from games if appropriate. In particular cases the complete software can be turned into a game. By applying game-thinking it is possible to reach new goals. Goals we could never reach by looking at solutions from a functional perspective only.

By recognizing the potential of Gamification we are on the edge to merge the knowledge out of the two most successful industries to create new astonishing products. This will lift us to a higher level. Software that will push us through emotional triggers leading to an enjoyable experience. Gamification will become the most important ingredient of web 3.0. Its potential still remains unknown, since only a first step has been made by recognizing the advantages of reward systems and applying those. Just look at the passion that people show when they play games and the lack of it if people work with professional software. That should be an eye opener to many of us.

Let’s scratch the word functionality in future designs, replace it by funtionality and be amazed by the difference one character can make.

 This vision makes more sense after reading the following story.

My first close encounter with Gamification was about 22 years ago. Yes, you are reading it correctly, 22 years ago!! Not bragging, it’s the honest truth. Need to say that I just recently discovered it during my research on Gamification where I got a flashback of the period where I was co-developing software for the Ambulance Control Room located at Amsterdam. The software we where building provides the Control Room operator all the information needed to plan Ambulances if accidents occur. In those days it was all text based. During development, my imagination gave me a peek into the future as it now seems. I even dreamed about it. I imagined that I turned the complete application into a game. It wasn’t that hard for me to do. I visualized a map of the city, ambulances on certain spots and accidents occurring. Then I thought: “wouldn’t it be great that if an accident occur I could click on the image of the ambulance followed by a click on the accident on the map. The ambulance would drive to the accident (connected with real data to calculate the speed), pick up the injured person (character) and drive this patient to the Hospital, all done through clicks.” In those days nobody would take me seriously. I would probably get fired with a one way ticket to a mental hospital as a bonus. So I kept my mouth shut. If I analyze that crazy idea now, it isn’t that strange all. If build properly, it will improve:

 -velocity, which is highly important

-commitment of operators

-safety, a complete visual of the entire situation

-measurement of employees

-costs, less people can do the job

-fun at work 

Last but not least, the hiring of operators could be done through a simulation of the game. Invite the top three of the game chart for an interview, success guaranteed.