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Is Gamification a Trend or a Fad?

I was quite skeptical about “gamification,” the use of game concepts to motivate desirable behavior among customers (or employees).

I reasoned that while expecting customers to “play games” might result in a short-term increase in brand involvement or purchases, I doubted if it was sustainable. However, I am rethinking my knee-jerk assessment.

As a Netflix customer, I was likely involved in a basic gamification effort. As I posted movie reviews on their site, I was given a “reviewer rank.” As I posted more reviews, my rank would improve. At one point I had worked my way to the neighborhood of 5,000 out of several million reviewers. Bettering my reviewer rank became a game for me. Yes, I enjoyed watching the movies and, yes, I found it rewarding to share my input with other Netflix customers, but the validation of my efforts came through watching my reviewer rank improve.

However, if it was a “game,” the problem was I didn’t know the rules. I assumed more reviews were good, more readers of my reviews were beneficial, and more people flagging my reviews as “helpful” in comparison to “not helpful” was also a factor. But this could not be verified, as everything I did was competing with what others did. So I could do something to improve my reviewer rank, but if others did even more to improve theirs, my rank would actually decrease.

I reviewed 71 movies and then abruptly stopped when I realized I no longer enjoyed doing so.

It seems gamification may work after all — at least for a while.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights with others through his books and blogs to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!