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How to (not) score a gamification epic fail

Turkey day is near, as is Black Friday (Blue Sunday, Cyber Monday etc).  It’s the “big day” for the retail world.  Currently, gamification is the biggest buzz word in the business sector.  Businesses want to increase engagement with their clients and develop customer loyalty which can reap substantial financial rewards, especially during the high holiday season. Let’s examine Target’s use of gamification in their Facebook page for Black Friday- the busiest shopping day of the year.

Poor gamification design in Black Friday campaign

Target's Black Friday gameGamification.co describes the poor design of the Target’s 2012 Facebook Black Friday campaign- notice that they didn’t run the same or similar campaign again this year.  The gist of the campaign is that you choose between two items to guess which item is on sale for Black Friday.  It then tallies and records how much you would save if you bought 20 “secret” items.  This information is already available through various formats- no new information.  The choices that the player makes is not meaningful. It ends up being gamification for gamification’s sake, what Gamification.co describes as “pointsification,” ie poor gamified design.  After reviewing Gamification.co’s article, below are a few take-away lessons.

    • Lesson 1:  Games elements enhance the game play experience.
      Don’t make people play the game to discover information that is readily available.  Below we’ll discuss examples of game design that successfully reveal new information through puzzles and/or “easter eggs.”  The objective of Target’s game does not align to the game activities that players perform.
    • Lesson 2: Social sharing should engage others to play.
      Target allowed players to share how much they would have saved if they purchased the 20 “secret” items.  Ability to socially share accomplishments in game play is important to elements of engagement and competition. Besides the fact that completion of the game as the only result of the game, the act of sharing this “achievement” does not engage others to play the game. After sharing, your friends should want to compare their game play to yours or in example, beat the “savings” you earned.  People are social by nature and usually want to connect with others by sharing their activities.

      Text correct of Harry Potter manuscript, bonus content from interactive puzzle

      Bonus content from J. K. Rowling’s Scholastic website

2 Examples of Good Gamification Elements

Using puzzles and/or providing “easter eggs” within a game can progress game play, as well as adding elements of mystery and excitement.  Prior to book releases or major press releases, J. K. Rowling used interactive puzzle games on her Scholastic website to entice her fans to discover bonus content or new information before it was shared through traditional venues.  Fans were required click on items in a certain sequence to reveal the bonus content or news releases.

Easter eggs refer to hidden items inside of the game or activity, as if they were eggs hidden during the Easter holiday during a scavenger hunt.  Sometimes these easter eggs will be graphics or textual clues to assist in resolving a larger puzzle or task.

Kevin Werbach’s Gamification course on Coursera uses easter eggs by changing items in a bookcase seen behind him in video lectures each week.  These items when collected or noticed by the students are evaluated to determine its value.  Werbach offered bonus points to the first student who guessed the hidden message adding a level of competition, as well as bragging rights as a form of reward.  This type of game element supports players who like to explore or play a discovery role.  Werbach’s secret message was related to learning about games and added an extra layer to watching class lectures.

Target made the mistake of using redundant information in their Black Friday game which invalidated the game objectives, resulting in an epic gamification fail.  Kevin Werbach used hidden clues in video lectures that provided new, but optional information to students to encourage additional motivation to watch lectures.  What other types of easter eggs, hidden clues or puzzles can be added to a course to make learning fun?  Would using these elements distract you from the primary message of the course content?  How does one balance adding an engaging activity so that it doesn’t overshadow the primary learning objective?

Top 3 “Fun” Fitness Apps to Keep You Fit for the Zombie Invasion

Congratulations, by clicking on this post you’ve burned approximately 1.42 calories!  Not many love exercising- it is what it is.  Most of us don’t have super active jobs anymore so we need to exercise in order to maintain our health and fitness, or improve it.  I won’t harp on the exponentially rising obesity rates in the United States, because we ain’t got time for that. Games are a great way to motivate us to get on the exercise ball!  The combination of video games and exercise, termed as “exergaming” has steadily been on the rise since Nintendo Wii’s inception. Let’s move on, or just start moving!

3. Nexercise

Here’s a basic gamified approach to exercise that awards badges, points and also uses leader boards (BPL).  You can also win rewards: swag, ie free stuff and discounts to merchandise/services.  Share your results easily with friends to add to the  competition game element.  What’s so great about this app?  If you are competitive and a high achiever, this app will get your started on your fitness journey.  However, there is no storyline in Nexercise and no direct engagement while you are exercising.  This app is more akin to a activity monitor with perks!

2. Fit Freeway

Screenshot of Fit Freeway app during play

Lose weight and get fit playing video games. Really! The key is finding exercise you enjoy – that’s Fit Freeway.

This app will get you racing to use the elliptical or stationary bike!  Fit Freeway is an old-style arcade car racing game.  Available for iOS devices, it uses the iPhone/iPad accelerometer to track your activity while you use the front facing camera to steer your speeding car.  Seeing as you need to hold the phone in front of your face for this app to work properly, you’re going to lose some intensity while running/jogging.  However, the faster or more intense your activity- the faster your car goes!

What’s great about this app?  This is fun and sometimes that is all you need.  The fun factor provides a distraction from gym boredom of staring at the wall or the TV.  However, a review stated the vibration detection to determine the car’s acceleration wasn’t spot on.  Fit Freeway might be left in the dust compared to the next top “fun” fitness app listed below.

1. Zombie Run

Zombie Run 2 logo

Get Fit. Escape Zombies. Become a Hero.

Download either Zombie Run ($3.99) available for iOS or Android.  Zombies are big now, much like most of our waistlines. The premise is you are not undead, but the undead are chasing after you.  While you run, you pick up ammunition and medical supplies that you need for your home base.  You create your own music playlist and in between song tracks voice recordings or radio announcements are made updating you to your storyline.  After your run/jog, you use supplies to build up your home base.

What’s great about this app?  Run or die. The future of humans is depending on you; it’s a race for survival.  It’s a severe thought, but a motivating one if you role play in this situation.  In addition, this game has a creation component that allows you to create a virtual living environment as you are responsible of the success and viability of the home base/township.  Psychologically speaking, this type of activity gives an user a sense of control and accomplishment.  This game has 33 free missions (more if you pay for them) to allow you to level up as you play. In addition, this app easily allows you to share your workout logs with others via social media, like Facebook and Twitter.  Stay alive and go get your game on!

Gamify this!

DEFINE GAMIFICATION FOR 10 POINTS!

Gamification: the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service….

Glass of ice water with lemon slice and straw sitting upon a white napkin on a wooden table

Jon Sullivan/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

Um, yeah. In short, we add game elements to an activity in order to change behavior. Perhaps we’ll do this to encourage someone to do something they really don’t like doing (like exercise), or we’ll gamify some activities to encourage a better quantity or quality of participation. As an example, let’s gamify this blog post.  Every time you read the word “gamification,” take a drink (ahem, of water). Cheers!

Now, I bet when you think of gamification, you’re still imagining video or computer games. Say you don’t play video games?  No worries- gamification still has a place in your life because it is everywhere.  Take a moment to think where you might have seen gamification in action.

You might think about:

Igor, it’s alive!  We’ll dismantle this monster of a list more in depth during a future post.  However, like any creation, things can go awry- especially if not well designed.

WHY AM I READING THIS BLOG?

This blog will assist you in learning more about gamification and its components.  We’ll highlight good and not so good examples of its application to avoid a franken-gamification-stein. We want good gamification, and we want it now!  We’re going to explore and discuss gamification as a trend, some “how-tos” and debate its future- which involves you!

WATCH A VIDEO: POPCORN TIME!

Extra Credits did a great video to introduce us to gamification, so let’s watch.  When they talk about gamification and it’s use in capitalism, do you think they have a valid point?

And lastly, gamification, gamification, gamification! 10 points to you if you’re on the way to the bathroom.  How many drinks was that?  What was my primary goal in gamifying this blog post, other than providing an example of gamification?  What behavior was encouraged to be modified? Drop in with a comment if you think you’ve got it.  Until next time, go get your game on!