Gamification and business – are we there yet?

by David Everton & Paris Searson

Published on
September 12, 2016

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The term “Gamification” first appeared in the early Naughties and is the application of typical elements of game playing (point scoring, competition with others, rules of play etc.) to other areas of activity.

As an online marketing technique, it’s used to encourage engagement with a product or service.  The Oxford Dictionary definition concludes that “gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun”.

The recent phenomenon of Pokemon has demonstrated that both children and adults enjoy the gamification of virtual reality (VR), or ‘walking around staring at your phone’.

The Cannes Lions declared 2016 the year that VR officially came of age, noticing an increase in conference sessions with VR in their titles. Samsung has declared it a new medium, not least because it sells VR headsets.

So while it’s understandable that VR is hugely popular in the gaming world, why hasn’t this aspect of gamification taken off as much as promised for online marketing in areas such as stakeholder engagement, community consultation or corporate communication?

There are, of course, the early adopters. Companies such as Siemens and Marriot International are using gamification as training tools for internal communication and recruitment.

There are also signs that virtual reality technology similar to what powers Pokemon Go is being applied by businesses. McDonalds’ current consumer promotion uses augmented reality for the first time.

Perhaps Pokemon will be the catalyst for more organisations to better understand the applications and benefits of virtual reality. Previous limitations included inappropriate game design, and lack of awareness of its merits. With the increase of digital information and a proliferation of smartphones, analysts predict the market potential for gamification will also increase. Deloitte has predicted 2016 to be VR’s first billion dollar year.

Here in Australia we are probably further behind in adopting gamification and VR for business than other countries such as the US.

But we think its only a matter of time before we see virtual reality coming to an office near you.