IAM Talking: Gamification, Behavioral Patterns and Employee Engagement

Today, the topic is Employee Engagement, and specifically, about Gamification. 

Welcome to IAM Talking, a periodic podcast interview series, with your host, Dan Keldsen, Chief Innovation Officer at Information Architected.

Today IAM Talking with Rajat Paharia, Founder and Chief Product Officer at Bunchball.

Why is NOW the time for gamification and understanding, surfacing, and influencing behavior?

While Zynga has had significant challenges in the 2012, 2010 and the rise of Zynga’s social games, became the “big consumer play” that suddenly paved the way for the non-traditional gamers of the world, to be exposed, massively, to game mechanics every day, whether on Facebook or on their mobile device.

Contrast that with the first “3 years of suck” for Bunchball, when there was no acknowledged language or label for gamification (a classic startup “Innovator’s Dilemma” – you have to create and educate the market, while inventing the products and solutions). It’s an entirely different world now.

Differences of Work and Play

We cover a lot of ground in this interview, the differences between creating actual games, the war of words on what terms are useful to describe gamification, and much more.

One quote from the interview that may be useful, is Rajat’s perspective on work and play – and how understanding the sometimes very subtle difference, can point to where gamification may be useful:

“The line between work and play is really just a bit in people’s heads, that flips… that’s it. Completely that, right?

I could be managing a spreadsheet of widgets at my job, or a spreadsheet of my crops in Farmville, or my ships in EVE Online, and I am doing the exact same thing. I’m manipulating numbers in a spreadsheet.

But it’s my perception of that task which is different, and that makes the difference between whether I think of that as work or play…

Making work more engaging and compelling isn’t about changing work, it’s not about changing the things that you do, it’s about how figuring out how to “frame” it in a different way.” – Rajat Paharia, Founder and Chief Product Officer at Bunchball

A word of caution on the pros and cons of Gamification

Gamification and game mechanics are a magnifying layer on top of whatever you are already doing.

If that initial experience, environment, process, marketing campaign, app, etc, is not compelling by itself… no amount of gamification is going to help you.

Gamification may, in fact, more rapidly destroy an already crippled and failing experience, and just as the many failed games of the world can point out – even with professional game designers, with past success, don’t always understand what makes an experience worth playing, and what motivations will drive the positive behaviors you’re looking for, while minimizing the risk of people gaming the environment in negative ways.

Comments or Questions?

Gamification is not for everyone, every situation, and when it comes down to it, you or your organization may not be ready for this. If you are interested in gamification, particularly for employee engagement purposes, register now for a free 30-minute consultation on whether the scenarios you’re looking at, are the right targets for successful gamification.

Any public questions, comment below, and we’ll answer and discuss together.

Listen now!

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