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What is Gamification? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Gamification combines the fun of playing a game with business information or a marketing message. In this lesson, you'll learn more about gamification and see some examples of its successful implementation.

Marketing Through Gaming

How many games do you have on your smartphone? One? Two? 20? Electronic gaming is big business. One needs only look at the plethora of new gaming systems that hit the market every year or the number of games available in the smartphone application stores for iPhones and Android devices to understand how significant the gaming industry is.

Typically, games have been just that - games for the sake of having fun, passing the time and racking up points or prizes. Today, savvy business owners and marketers have turned the tables of electronic games by taking charge of the industry and using it for their own purposes. This new concept, of taking an existing game or website and adding game-like components to build loyalty and increase engagement, has its own name: gamification.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is the concept of using the operations, processes and competition of the gaming environment and turning those features into a system that encourages consumer participation, engagement and loyalty. By using the techniques software engineers employ to grab the attention of game players, businesses are able to see value added to their marketing efforts through new methods of interaction.

Gamification manipulates the human emotions of community, achievement and reward commonly found in various gaming websites and platforms and turns them on their head to benefit businesses. It's not about creating a new game for a fast-food restaurant, necessarily, as much as it is taking an existing platform - a website or an existing smartphone application - and making it into a fun experience that motivates customers in terms of interaction, loyalty and sales.

The concept of gamification is to take something business-focused and make it fun, driving better engagement with your customers and creating a community where they're driven to participate, get to know your brand better and be a long-term customer.

We all want to be a part of a community, achieve success, get praise and feedback for our efforts and earn rewards along the way. That's why we play games to begin with, right? We're able to achieve the game's goals, pick up tokens along the way, cash those tokens in for bigger prizes and gain an advantage over our fellow game players. Gamification takes those concepts and applies them to a business setting. It uses psychology and technology together to achieve business objectives like growing a consumer base, increasing awareness and earning more sales.

There are many examples of gamification done well in the business arena, and many more examples to come. In fact, gamification is becoming so popular it is expected to surpass $11 billion in 2020. Here is a glimpse into a few companies leading the gamification charge.

Nike+

The sporting goods apparel king, Nike, launched their Nike+ platform in 2006, as an online community that allows its users to track and share their exercise results in competition with other users. By doing so, community members earn points and get exclusive access to special events and behind-the-scenes content. In the five or so years following its launch, Nike+ grew from 500,000 members to more than 18 million members. That's a definite win for the company in terms of spreading their message, obtaining consumer information and growing their customer base.

Teleflora Rewards

The rewards program initiated by Teleflora, a flower and gift delivery service, allows its members to earn points toward future discounts on purchases. As part of Teleflora's Rewards program, community members benefit in other ways, including access to pre-order new products before they're publicly released, and earning additional points for participating on social media and leaving product reviews. All of that point activity is tracked on a leaderboard - a common component of a gamification program that feeds into our competitive human nature.

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