Gamification Just A Fad? Not So, Says Expert

In case you needed further confirmation that gamification has become a major trend that’s here to stay, check out this Q&A with Gabe Zichermann at the San Francisco Gamification Summit.

via Lizette Chapman @zettewil with Gabe Zichermann @gzicherm,

Gamification is serious business.

More than 600 people are attending the three-day Gamification Summit in San Francisco (which runs through Thursday) to explore how game dynamics — like points and feedback — are being applied in the enterprise and beyond to create what analysts expect will become a $2.8 billion market in the U.S. by 2016.

We talked with conference chair and gamification author Gabe Zichermann about why the market is growing, which areas still ripe for disruption and why he believes that trend is growing and not a passing fad.

You have 650 attending the conference this year. Last year it was 400. Does that matter?

Yes, scores and numbers matter a lot to people. The ecosystem treats the size of the event as an indicator of the health of the industry.

It seems like a different mix this year, with a lot more enterprise players.

Yes., Cisco, Oracle, SAP — they’ve all come. Their core product has pretty low engagement and until now they haven’t had to engineer for greater engagement. With the consumerization of IT, they have to account for that now.

How so?

Companies that include gamification have triggered a different thought process. Yammer (which Microsoft is reportedly acquiring for $1.2 billion) is a great example of that and so is Rypple (which bought).

What areas of the enterprise are ripe for disruption through gamification?

HR (human resources) is a very broken department in most organizations. It’s budget-constrained and looking for a nimble way to become relevant again. Gamification has given them a new toolset to do that very cheaply. Consumer marketing is another area.

There are a number of VC-backed companies like BigDoor, Bunchball, Badgeville and CrowdTwist now signing customers like Major League Baseball, NBC Universal, Playboy and Pepsi. Do you see the number of such companies consolidating or continuing to expand?

Over the next 12-24 months they will all continue to grow just as the market is growing. The market has increased 150% over the past year to $200 million in the U.S.

What’s the biggest misconception about the gamification space?

That it’s not serious or that we’re trying to turn things into a game. We’re not. What we are trying to do is use the best technologies from games to create engagement and change behaviors. We’ve never operated a society that was free from structure, rewards, or penalty for bad behaviors. Now because of technology, organizations of all sizes are capable of putting that into their systems.

Some would say gamification is a fad. How would you respond?

By pointing out all the traction it’s gotten already with companies. Everybody plays games. Whether it’s a soccer mom comparing kids or guys comparing frequent flier miles, everybody’s keeping score. Keeping score is a core part of human nature.Why not bring these elements to all parts of life and make everything, even (unpleasant) jobs more fun?

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  1. This Week In Gamification: June 17-23 | EnGaming - June 23, 2012

    […] This week in Gamification news, the Gamification Summit took centre stage.  This conference was held in San Francisco and chaired by Gabe Zichermann. […]

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