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.