It’s time to unleash the real power of Gamification!

I like professor Scott Nicholson’s thoughts about Gamification. He is one of the few that looks beyond the current solutions that are being offered. Today it’s all about applying reward systems on a non game environment. Why? Because if done right, it simply does the job. I also use that mechanism, because it is easy to apply and combined with meaningful rewards it can help reach business goals. A useful tool that proofs that game mechanisms work in the real world!

There are a lot of games that depend on reward systems. Think about Angry Birds for example. Might be the best reward system we have seen over the last couple of years. As always this mechanism has been copied a lot. It might even be that Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, wasn’t the first either. However they managed to shape it to perfection.

Today I want to write about something else. How we can use the mechanism from sandbox games in a none game context and why I think it is very powerful. A “sandbox game” gives you the ultimate freedom, space and environment to do whatever you want. They can often be played in a challenge, or free mode. In Minecraft, one of the most popular Sandbox Games, they are called survival and creative mode. The success of these games is easy to explain; they maintain at least 4 of the 8 kinds of fun defined by Marc Leblanc. Very appealing kinds of fun I might add:

  • Fantasy
  • Fellowship
  • Discovery
  • Expression

When the game is played in a challenge mode we can even add two more:

  • Challenge
  • Sensation

If we take a closer look at the first 4 kinds of fun I mentioned and think about where they can be used for, innovation immediately comes to mind. Innovation; the source of every successful business! My son took me on a journey through the world he created in Minecraft a couple of weeks ago, that journey opened my eyes. He is more creative within that world than he would ever be in the real world. Why? That’s a simple question to answer. He can do whatever he wants, without limitations and failures are allowed! In the real world this is impossible. This mechanism triggers creativity, curiosity and it learns us how to achieve more if we cooperate. Very, very useful elements if we want to innovate.

We should explore this mechanism and apply it to the real world. I am thinking about a sandbox environment that applies to any given field of expertise, made so easy that people without knowledge of that field can participate. In other words, the application should make difficult things more understandable, so a broad audience can participate. That will speed up innovation. Everybody can have that brilliant idea if they are able to play around in such an environment. How often do we see brilliant innovations that are so simple in its essence that they have been overlooked time and time again.