A new era unfolds

What will happen in the next five years? Gartner predicts that 70% of the companies will use some kind of Gamification before 2015. Another report that was revealed recently says, 80% of Gamification projects will fail, due to a bad approach.

Just numbers, it doesn’t say anything about how the world will look like after five years. Nobody knows. But I can tell you how it can look. As humanity we need to recognize the solutions that are so obvious. Gamification being one of them. If most of our children play video games, what does that tell us? No really, think about it. In the US the exact number of children between the age of 12 and 17 playing videogames is: 97%. Taking in consideration that some people just can’t afford these games, this number is as close to 100% as it can probably get.

For now it is important to understand that the world is changing radically at high speed. Some people might find themselves lost, they can’t keep up with this pace. This might be scrary for some. The chance is for the better. The complete picture is unfolding itself. Old school business consultants will have a difficult period, but the change is inevitable. It’s a silent one, no demonstrations on the street, no ability to stop the irreversible process – it has already begun. The power will be in the hands of the people. If someone has a talent (and a lot of people have), social media makes it possible to spread the message. Our direct network decides if something will be a success, they are connected with the rest of the world and can spread the word. In theory it takes just a couple of steps to reach anyone on this planet, that is connected. People are connected to a product, service or public figure and connected to each other. They know if something is authentic and share it. They know if something is funny and like it. They know if something works properly and like it. They know if a politician is telling the truth and share it! Pure reactions are what everybody has to deal with these days when starting a venture. That’s still new for a lot of people. Believe me, being honest about your venture is the best way to go. If it fails, it will fail for the right reasons. Learn your lessons and try again. But if you found your passion, it will rise and shine!
We are close to a world in which money isn’t dictating every step we make. Many youngsters help each other without being paid, they call it investing with social capital. They invest in something they believe in by doing the work, or by sharing knowledge. Afterwards they gain from a possible success. I think humanity is creating a new awareness, in which they finally understand that happiness doesn’t come from money, it’s about real value. Real values comes from creating something together that can be meaningfull, innovative, funny, or anything that drives us from within.

“Real value comes from the heart and is appreciated by many.” 

Check out “generation G” or “crowd funding“. Those movements more or less support the point I am making.

Back to gamification and what it can do within 5 years from now. Gamification will play an important role in this change. Like I explained before, people love to play games. Humans play games for over 5000 years. Hard to imagine, right? That’s why it’s fair for me to say: “it’s in our genes!” Organizations will apprehend this because organizations that apply Gamification will be more successful than others. All we Gamifiers have to do is change the landscape; one organization at a time.

Gamification will at least change:

-the educational environment
-the business environment
-the working environment

The educational environment

Gamification will have a huge impact on our educational system. Children play games, some of them can’t even stop playing them. It is a natural urge that is calling them. Parents are fighting something that’s in their genes. Instead of asking themselves: Why do they have that urge? Please take a look at Gabe Zichermann’s speech, it might provide some answers.

Game developers and educators should join forces. What has to be done here is very simple, provide game developers with material our current educational system wants children to learn. Let game developers find a way to integrate that in games. The Goverment should support this. The educators should not interfere in the game making process. Making games is a craft! It is important to leave it up to the game developers, otherwise it will fail. Done properly, children won’t even know they are being educated and if they find out, they don’t care because the experience is fun. Game companies should still sell these games, for the same price as they always did. If this happens on a large scale it will change the educational system big time. Children learn by play in their own time, faster then ever before and just need a couple of coaching moments by teaching specialists to see if they are still on track. They will discover new things during these lessons. They can become little inventors! Within 5 years, training centers who turned this philosophy into reality will deliver excellent students and this will change the educational system forever.

I know –because we made them at Youdagames- that the Hidden Object Genre is perfect to teach children history (amongst other subjects). Funny thing is that they are designed for women around the age of 35, but Youdagames won an children’s award in Germany with their best title in that genre.

In the future parents will say:

“make sure to finish your game, before we have diner! If you don’t have enough time to finish we will eat later.”

Not convinced? I will give two examples. My middle son is a soccer fan and so am I. We both play soccer and follow the Dutch competition. My youngest son doesn’t play soccer and is less interested in the real thing, but he plays FIFA 2012 intensely. He adores the management part of the game, in which you can trade players. He knows exactly which player would be the best fit for a certain position. This knowledge can even be used in the real world. He knows more about the subject then I do.

Formula one drivers have been known to play Formula one games to explore the racing track before they actually race.

We are in a financial crisis and these concerning times have an advantage. Sharp leaders might try something new, to get out of this situation. The current educational system fails more or less and of course there is no money to fix it. I have an idea that won’t cost much. The government should make it interesting for game developers to put educational stuff into games (for example by tax reduction). A board of teachers should test and approve those games of course. Teachers would take the role of community manager for a game, or area of expertise, and because of their background they can respond to questions students might have. It will be a new experience cause if done properly students will actively pull the information out of the teachers, especially if information gets the kids to the next level of the game.. This is a big contrast to the current situation, where teachers needs to assign tasks and check if they are done on time.

It’s a completely different approach and that’s why it might scare people off. But why not do a pilot? Next to the billions the government spends, the costs of this pilot would be irrelevant and if it works it can save lots of money and provide us with a much better educational system. Prime Minister, I hope you are reading this and maybe we can have a chat one day :)

The business environment

The business environment will have to change. The current financial system is obvious failing, knowledge is spread and the big cooperations don’t have the flexibility that is needed.  Organization do not have much time to think about solutions that Gamification can provide for them. Will gamification drive business away? Will they be taken seriously if they take on gamification? Are questions that has to be answered with actions! It is a big change, but it is needed to survive. The turnaround will come from the successful early adaptors. Others will follow. A mechanism powered by success.

Along with the success of gamification a lot of barriers will be gone within five years. Barriers like: long boring registration processes, waiting lines with nothing to do, difficult business processes, studying, trying to make promotion, enjoying work, etcetera, etcetera. Once gamified these barriers will be taken in a natural and joyful way. Furthermore gamification can also provide plain and simple amusement and change unwanted behavior. People will recognize the obvious difference between gamified and none-gamified companies and will choose for fun. Who doesn’t want to have fun? Those companies will find it very easy to promote themselves on social media. What is not to like about a company that is fun, right? More fun in this case means engagement:  more time on the site, bigger spending, leading to more revenue. I agree with Gartner, 70% of the companies will use some kind of gamification, because they will need it to survive. In my opinion it will take a bit more time. Two or three years more. I believe that around 2018 we will reach the 70% Gartner predicted.

In the Netherlands we have a famous commercial from the tax authority. Their pay off is: “we can’t make it more fun, but we can make it easier!” It is the payoff for the services they provide. You can imagine how I think about that. They have to make it more fun in order to make it easier. They promote the opposite of what they should do. Very funny if you think about it.

The working environment

People run organizations. That is something we need to be aware of. To compare this with an engine: an engine runs smoothly when you to take good care of it. Make sure: that parts don’t rust, that there is enough fuel to make the mileage, that parts are on the right place, that every part works and that the electronic system regulates everything properly. I see Gamification as the tool that fine tunes and maintains the engine. Implementing Gamification in the workspace might frighten people at first, but soon they will see overall progress and personal growth. Allow me to explain the comparison with an engine in more detail:

  1. Rust means employees that do their job, but need to be promoted. They work on autopilot and don’t get much satisfaction out of work.
  2. Fuel is recognition from co-workers and management. It provides the energy employees need to get the job done.
  3. Parts being at the right place, means that employees might find themselves doing things they are not suited for.
  4. Every part needs to work, is a metaphor for an employee that does a good job because the conditions are good.
  5. Electronic system can be compared with the management. They control the organization. Any malfunction here has a big impact.

Gamification can improve all of the above. This will result in a much better working environment. As a result people will enjoy work more and they will carry that joyful feeling with them where ever they go. Now the organization employs people that do a good job and will promote the organization in an authentic way. This will eventually lead to more profit and will attract new valuable employees. A good side effect people will become more creative and it has a positive influence on their health.

Within 5 years from now, people that search for a new job will try to work for a gamified organization. They know the advantage and want enjoy it as well. Since the power lies with the people it is inevitable that organizations need to change their behaviour. Many will do the sensible thing and make that change!!

Imagine –like I do- how the world would look if organizations have been Gamified on a large scale. Having fun most of the day. Would that have a positive influence on health care?? I -for one- believe it has.

It was my pleassure to share some of my thoughts about the futere. More than I initially aimed for but when inspired the fingers start typing by themselves. Hope you enjoyed reading it and please send me your thoughts.

If you want to connect, please feel free to do so. For business inquiries please contact me.