The Gamification Summit in New York

Gamification is hot and it’s getting hotter every day. A holy grail for marketers to finally get consumers to interact with their brands? A hype that will go away, melting in meaning like snow on a sunny day? Two weeks ago I attended a summit in New York about the hot topic of Gamification. The summit was organized by Gabe Zicherman who is a leading person in this domain and has written books about gamification. We attended this summit as we are looking at what gamification techniques can bring to market research and panel&community management.
Important to start with is the definition of gamification as we are not creating real games here. Gamfification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems and engage users. It is about using techniques from games and the game industry in other situations, outside of games. The summit was a mix of presentations, panel discussions and workshops. Some of the interesting speakers and learnings are outlined below.
You need a good product
Gamification itself, is not the holy grail. You will never be able to make a bad app sell better by using gamification techniques. The first requirement is that your product is good. The use of techniques will help you to amplify, to accelerate the success of the product.
Real vs virtual rewards
One of the panel discussions that was on my must attend list, was the discussion real vs virtual rewards. In our industry rewarding is an important issue that has been discussed and researched. The most used gamification technique is about rewarding people with status: badges, levels … However the question is how long this is sustainable to engage people with a badge.
The participants in this discussion came from Crowdtwist, Recyclebank, Badgeville and Kiip*. The different companies represented in the panel have different ‘types’ of rewards they are using and no one has the key to the secret as most of them are using a mix or rewards and are still experimenting themselves. The types of rewards mentioned were Social, Monetary, Community, Purpose, Labels/reputation/status, Priveleges, Content, Product, Experiences, … This differentiation of possible rewards has led to the definition of real vs virtual.
Real should be seen as something that brings real value and should not necessarily be money, cash, vouchers. This can be exclusive content or extra features. While virtual is really about status, levels, badges….  All of them agreed that real cash rewards are not sustainable in the long run for engagement. If you apply cash/vouchers, don’t do it on a structural base but ad hoc, with a surprise effect. Like KIIP is doing.*
Game Player Types
Different presentations and the workshop covered the dimension of game player types. The logic behind different types of players in games can be used as a technique to build your gamification strategy. One of the most used gamer profiling is Bartle.
Bartle gamer profiling comes from research on players of multiplayer online games. This segmentation is often used in gamification design, although it is coming from a niche group of gamers. Bartle identified ‘the achievers’, ‘the explorers’, ‘the socializers’ and ‘the killers’. Achievers are looking for points, levels, … while explorers are more into discovering new things, learn new things, … Socializers are in there for the social aspect more than the game itself actually. Killers are there to win, they want to win and want you not to win. This is different than for achievers who also want to win but don’t do this because of beating the other, because the other should loose. Socializers are always the biggest group. To show these different profiles Gabe is using these examples out of real life:
Achievers are the people on the Japanese fish market who want to buy the best fish at the cheapest price. Who enjoy the auction, who want to win, but not necessarily because they want to beat others. They want to have the best deal.
Explorers are the people that like to go to the market in Turkey and buy a very nice souvenir to show to their friends. At the moment of showing it to their friends they enjoy to tell the story of how they discovered that one shop, that had it. They will not talk about how exclusive it is, or what it is worth, but about how they got it.
The socializers are the friends that go shopping together. Not really for shopping, but to be together, to chitchat, to talk about the boys. The shopping is secondary.
And the killers are the ones you see in the series Storage Wars. There people can buy storage and they off course do this to make money, but most of all they enjoy beating the other in the auction. They would even lose money just to win it from someone else. Watch this trailer to understand 🙂

This classification is often used, but Jon Radoff has a different view on this. For him social is a layer that is among all types. His classification identifies motivations such as immersion, cooperation, achievement and competition.

Immersion is about storytelling, practicing theory of mind, adopting new viewpoints, imagining cause and effect, recognizing patterns, appreciating beauty. Achievement is bout mastering skills. Being able to progress in the execution of the game.  Cooperation is altruism, coordination, coalition-building, grouping. Competition as in competition for attention, for resources, for recognition, for physical domination, mates, etc. All with a social layer over it. Looking at different player profiles can help to create a gamification strategy. Focussing on one or two is good but you should not try to eliminate any, and take all in consideration.
At InSites Consulting we are looking into different gamification techniques to optimize our research projects and our panel management. We are currently working on some R&D studies to see how we can get our participants more engaged of a study and for long term membership. We will keep you posted on the progress, for sure!
I just wanted to conclude with some more information about KIIP. Just because I am so impressed by the concept but more by the founder. Brian Wong (21) is the founder of the company, graduated from university at 18 and founded his company just recently. The company got venture capital from the top VC’s in US and is bringing real rewards in virtual games. Imagine you play angry birds, for fun, for the mastery of the game and on level 5, out of the blue you get KIIP offering you a voucher, for free.
Just watch his story here

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