With Deloitte recently having named gamification one of the leading tech trends of 2012 it’s easy to start thinking that gamification is something entirely new, and consequently, something that might disappear from the tech scene as quickly as it appeared.
But when you look at it closely it’s clear that the only new thing here is the name. Traditional institutions have been gamifying their processes for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Look at the military, boy scouts or sports, for example.
But gamification is also present in less likely places, and one of these is the University of Oxford, an institution renowned for its tradition and by some accounts its slowness to respond to change.
For the university to maintain its academic reputation it’s important to encourage students to study consistently and produce quality work, and certain game-like mechanics encourage these behaviours. Let’s run through a few of the most important ones:
- If you get a first in prelims (first year exams) you get a Scholarship. This means you get a symbolic amount of money each term and you’re allowed to wear a long gown. That way in effect you’ve leveled up. You’re no longer a commoner, but a scholar, and by the type of gown you wear everyone else can see your status.
- If you don’t quite hit a first, you can still be recommended by your tutors for an Exhibition if you did especially well in your exams. The reward here is the same; you’re now called an Exhibitioner and you also get to wear a long gown to dinner!
- Another perk for those who have leveled up comes when you choose accommodation. Rooms at Christ Church College, and most others, are allocated using a ballot. If you’re a Scholar or an Exhibitioner you basically get put right up at the top of the ballot, giving you first pick of the best rooms. So there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a big room, double bed, en suite bathroom and maybe even a separate sitting room.
- Also, as you work through your many exams at the end of the year your progress is measured by the carnation in your lapel. On the day of your first exam you wear a white carnation; from then on you wear a pink one, and then on your final day of exams you wear a red one. That way everyone knows not to mess with anybody on their last day of exams!
So let’s not be tempted to think of gamification as a brand new concept, nor as one that’s likely to disappear any time soon. But here the great opportunity is in the online world, where gamification is only just getting started, and that’s where companies like wonnova come in. They take an age old, tried and tested motivational technique and apply it to a newborn online world.