[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2012 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]
- What’s Gamification?. Use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts. (1) Game elements: the ability to earn points or badges for completing certain activities, a leader board showing the status of the players. (2) Game design techniques: this relates to the aesthetics of the game, the narrative, the journey, how the player progresses through the game. (3) Non-game contexts: applying gamification to solve business problems — even on an enterprise level.
- Why KM and Collaboration?. KM is a perfect candidate for gamification because while collaboration is good and rewarding in and of itself, many people find it hard to do. Gamification can help people over the hurdles to starting and keep them motivated along the journey.
- Some Examples of Gamification. (1) Fitocracy helps make you “super better” through exercise. (2) Nike Plus has built an enormous community of runners. (3)) Steptacular is an Accenture program.
- Core Concepts. (1) Start by understanding your audience. What works for one part of your organization may not work for other parts of your organization. Conduct a user study to determine which elements of gamification resonate with your audience. One game does not fit all. (2) Impact: showing status is cheap and easier. However, it may lack meaning since it does not really demonstrate impact. Look for ways to demonstrate the impact of accomplishment within the game. At Accenture, they provide a report via gamification called “My Collaboration Impact.” It tracks activities such as posting a blog that represented thought leadership that lead to a specific number of people either commenting or reporting a new behavior.(3) Visibility: you can use gamification to make visible good behaviors and provide feedback and positive reinforcement to ensure more of that behavior. (4) Mastery: becoming good at an activity is reward in and of itself. Therefore, break the game down into logical steps that help participants progress towards mastery. The job of the game designer is to be the sherpa to help them up the mountain to mastery. (5) Autonomy: allow the player some independence, let them make some meaningful choices. (6) Purpose: this is the social element. Have the game communicate that you are involved in something bigger than yourself, you are making a difference.
- Gamification Pitfalls. (1) Gamification won’t fix made KM. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. Therefore, be sure that your KM approach and processes are good before adding gamification elements. (2) Making games is easy. It may be fun (at least serious fun), but it isn’t just a matter of slapping badges on something. (3) Focus on behaviors not activities. While activities are components of behaviors, they don’t by themselves bring about long-term change. (4) Da
- Focus on Behaviors not Activities. While activities are useful and necessary components of behavior, they don’t by themselves bring about long-term change. Therefore, focus on the long-term change you are trying to achieve and then construct the game to help the player to complete specific tasks that will help cultivate the desired behavior.
- Data is King. A well-designed game can help generate huge amount of useful data.
- Spread the Recognition. Find different ways of recognize accomplishment. Don’t limit yourself to badges. Realize that sometimes a note from a senior executive will be more meaningful.
- People Will Game the System. This is a fact of life. Therefore, set limits on the numbers of point you can receive for a specific activity. Equally, don’t communicate exactly how many points you can earn for particular activities because you don’t want people to focus solely on high-point activities or a large volume of low-point activities. Finally, remember that if you offer a prize like an iPad you will be inviting people to seriously subvert the game.
- Start small and then evolve.. Don’t worry about getting it right immediately out of the box. Plan to iterate.
- Gamification is Not a Silver Bullet.