Gamification – a way to drive participation

Gamification, in short, “integrates game dynamics into your site, service, community, content, or campaign, in order to drive participation” (link).   Game design can include levels, badges, leaderboards, ways to socialize, or rankings in order to incentivize people to want to participate.

Positives?

Games could be used for learning, health, and general participation.  Gamification has already been used successfully in different cases.  A start-up, Community Planit, is an online game using challenge questions and themed missions to win coins to help citizens contribute to community planning.  A game called “Idea Street” was implemented in the Work and Pensions Department in the U.K. to solicit ideas for improvement in the workplace has led to many cost improvements.  The feedback and rewards that games offer seem to be big drivers of participation, particularly in crowdsourcing arrangements.

Potential Negatives?

The biggest potential negatives to using gamification is the potential of the game not being useful or appealing to those whom play it or becoming an expensive investment.  The Wilson Center of Princeton University recommends that different prototypes be developed with much “play-testing” to incorporate feedback (http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/GamesForImpact-BestPractices_0.pdf).

Final Verdict?

Gamification theories and techniques definitely seem worthwhile to look into in order to increase participation and interest.  However, one should carefully consider what game design to use, if it would be a worthwhile investment, and get early feedback from potential “players” in order to determine if the game is appealing to people.

 

For more information:

–          http://www.govtech.com/local/Gamification-Governments-Use-Gaming-Principles-to-Get-Citizens-Involved.html

–          http://www.govloop.com/group/gamingingovernment

–          http://www.howto.gov/training/classes/gamification

–          http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/GamesForImpact-BestPractices_0.pdf

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