As I’m sure that our readers know, gamification is a pretty hot topic these days. However, what our readers may not know, or may not have thought much about, is that there can be confusion in the marketplace about the relationship between gamification and interactive games – especially games of chance. Here at QIC, we’ve studied this relationship extensively and I thought our readers might find our insights on the topic interesting. So, here goes.
To state it simply, gamification features or elements are not the same as interactive games. There a number of key distinctions. Let’s start with definitions, as articulated by our friends at Wikipedia.
- Gamification is “the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, [elite status attainment] and rules of play)” to a non-traditional area of activity, such as sales or marketing.
- Interactive games of chance are characterized by “outcome[s that are] strongly influenced by some randomizing device.”
Gamification Elements in the Incentive Program Environment
And while definitions are valuable, it’s more important to understand how gamification and interactive games should be used in the incentive program setting. Here at QIC, we believe that gamification elements are optimally used to stimulate competition among participants, in turn creating stronger commitment to the activities being measured – such as sales quota attainment.
On the other hand, unlike gamification, which is related to skill or ability-related activities, games of chance should be regarded as related to (if not synonymous with) sweepstakes. Accordingly, such games of chance are subject to the same rules and regulations that apply to sweepstakes and should be used to reinforce simple actions (e.g., log-in to the program web site) or to deliver a “thank you” type reward.
The final dimension upon which these concepts differ is their visual depictions, as you might expect. For gamification, we employ graphical elements such as:
- customized leaderboards,
- badges, and
- elite status progress-to-goal images.
All of these graphics are dynamically driven by program activity and serve to dramatically reinforce the game mechanics in use.
Alternatively, typical interactive games include the following “randomizing devices” (as noted in the definition above):
- spin-and-win wheels,
- hidden ball and cups, and
- three doors (as used on a well-known television show).
In closing, please note that while distinctly different, both gamification and interactive games can significantly and positively impact the attractiveness and success of your incentive program. But it’s critically important to know how each approach is most correctly and effectively used. We invite you to contact us if we can help you with this important, and fun, topic.