Have you ever used Foursquare? It’s an app that let’s you check in to various locations. Check in enough times and you can become mayor of that area and win badges and crap.
Have you joined in a local Biggest Loser competition to see who can lose the most weight?
Have you ever waited for something to load on the computer and been able to play a game with it?
Have you ever tried to get a kid to hurry up by offering to race them?
Then you’ve engaged in a crude form of gamification. Humans have a primal wiring that makes them want to compete and play games. We like challenges, and we like winning. If you’ve ever played a video game not to beat the game but to beat someone’s high score, you know what I’m talking about.
Gamification is coming to an advertiser near you too. Imagine watching your Hulu and instead of getting a 30-60 second spot in between your Glee addiction (admit it) you’re forced to play a game that shows how well a product works. A good example might be Ford having you drive a car on screen from one place to another using some cool feature it has.
You didn’t think advertisers were happy with just showing you ads right? They’ve known all along that only a small percentage of people even pay attention to their ads, and they want everyone engaged. They can maximize the value of their ad dollar and make sure everyone knows about their product or brand.
But it goes beyond potentially replacing commercials. Gamification is likely to get into just about every part of your life. I use a beer tracking app on my phone that gives me accomplishments for drinking different beers, or drinking 50 American beers for example. I’ve also used a cycling machine at my gym that is connected as a video game. I race a pacemaker, or other users online and my accomplishments are unlocked by going faster and adjusting gears at the right time. Users of Wii Fit know what I’m talking about.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about gamification yet. Right now it seems harmless, but I worry about this going too far and the line between reality and virtual reality perhaps getting even more skewed. But life is quite good without gamification, I can only home it serves as a good supplement when no other incentives work.
Below is a 7 minute video about gamification, have a look and let me know in the comments what you think.