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Gamification: Optimal Engagement

Gamification can be defined as the use of gameplay mechanics in non-game situations in order to gain greater engagement with a task, a problem, a service or a product.  It works by encouraging users to participate actively in preferred behaviours through total task immersion fuelled by the human psychological predisposition for engaging in game-playing.  As gamification rules of engagement are based on developing mastery and independence, people can be encouraged to engage more with everyday tasks or routine activities to a greater degree.  Since intrinsic motivation (motivation by the task itself, rather than by external factors) is best for successful learning and engagement, including task completion, applying gamification strategies in workplace, can increase productivity and engagement substantially.

As technology is becoming more sophisticated, we have now moved beyond the point scoring, leader-boards or other rewards associated with earlier gameplay mechanics to greater engagement through appeal to intrinsic motivation.  This means that people can be more motivated to solve problems or engage with tasks without distraction, rather than to perceive these routine tasks as chores.  When gamification is applied in a work or learning situation, it can not only improve outcomes, but it can also increase enjoyment and engagement in successful task completion.  This inevitably leads to greater autonomy of the workforce, improved capabilities, greater satisfaction and increased productivity.

Searching for greater employee engagement, researchers have found that the use of gamification in workplace contexts, brings significant improvements in outcomes by delivering meaningful scenarios, and contributes to employee satisfaction through increased mastery an immersion. Dr Deeph Chana, Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College, asserts that “since the term “gamification” was introduced by Nick Pelling in 2002, many lessons have been learned about its increasing importance in the world of business.”

Chana contributes this recognition of the importance of gamifying content stating that “… any work related tasks can be addressed in a deeper way, as it involves the learners getting to grips with highly complex business issues, that are worked through…”  He says that, “Well designed games also play to the learners’ competitive nature, they allow individuals to build knowledge and share their experience in an on-line world, which is much safer to practice, make mistakes and learn by doing.” 

An author of an article on the topic of gamification in the workplace published in The Wall Street Journal on 12 January 2014 concludes that, “All evidence suggests that your work one day will operate like a videogame to be conquered, rather than a craft to be perfected.”  So perhaps it is time to ask, “Is your job a game?”  And what are your rules of engagement…?

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