MIST 7500: Gamification of Applications – Executive Summary 4

Engaging people and holding their attention span is very important especially for businesses that rely on user interaction, feedback and advertising. As technology improves and services become more accessible to everybody, this has proven to be more challenging now than in the past.

With the advances in the Internet, media delivery, digital content, etc., users are able to move between each activity so fast that the attention span of humans are decreasing. If they see a website that is clunky or is not visually pleasing, they just move on to the next one. If they see a website that gives a much better experience than another, users already form an opinion about that particular site within just a minute or two and they stop going to the mediocre site.

One of the concepts developed that try to help engage people so they will keep coming back to use an application is called the ‘Gamification of Applications’. The idea is to design a service that provides a game-like experience for the user. This concept has gained the attention of a lot of people in the industry to help attract users.

Some of the techniques used in ‘gamification’ include the use of achievement levels, leader boards, badges, concept of progression in a mission, challenges and virtual currency.

A good example of a service with ‘gamification’ qualities is the website Code Academy (http://www.codecademy.com). Code Academy helps people who want to learn a certain programming language such as JavaScript or Ruby. Their challenge is to keep users committed in finishing the tutorials and exercises so they can start to learn how to code. Code Academy does this by giving the user a badge for every chapter they complete. Badges can be shared with friends, so they can see how much you have already learned. They also provide a progress tracker, so the user can see where he/she is in the lessons and in the entire program.

The gamification of applications seems like a good way to improve services but this practice has also received negative attention from professionals in the gaming industry, business executives and academics. Some of the criticism of the concept is that it simplifies user interaction to just following certain rules and mechanics of the ‘game’. Others think that gamification makes the concept of games look one dimensional.

Given all that, I think this concept can be considered internally to improve certain administrative tasks. We can take a look at some elements that we can ‘gamify’ with staff satisfaction in mind.

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