I recently received a delighted email from an elderly relative, exclaiming that she had achieved the status ‘green queen’ for her ‘consistent dedication to recycling’. This glamorous title was not only, of course, an honour of the highest degree to someone whose greatest achievement that year had been completing the Times crossword, but also entitled her to discounts redeemable in a carefully selected local supermarket. Now the very fact that my great-aunt was even able to forward an email may be cause enough for you to consider her an unworthy representative for her generation, but such are the ever-expanding capabilities of the 21st century pensioner who ventures out into the world of basic technology. However the primary focus of this ramble is not to coo over a decrepit lady’s achievement at pressing a button, but to explore just how far gamification has permeated our lives, both in type, and in audience. Were I to respond to said relative, explaining that she had in fact just experienced an example of gamification, it would doubtless be too much for her rapidly deteriorating mind to comprehend. However, the fact is, whatever label attributed to the psychological forces of persuasion incorporated into such a mundane, cotidian task as taking out the rubbish, gamifying elements are undeniably present.
GAMIFICATION WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT
The worlds of technology and sustainability would not be ones immediately associated, however with the ever growing importance placed on ‘going green’, coupled with the social stigma surrounding a frivolous, wasteful or damaging attitude to natural resources and the environment, it is hardly surprising that the facilitation of such a conscientious push should be inextricably linked to the ever-advancing world of the internet. Such is the case with any innovation in modern society; success is as dependent on the internet as the polar bears are on the continued existence of the arctic ice caps.
DETECT THE UNEXPECTED
How to recognise gamifying elements in the situation where you least expect it:
- a system of points to reward user-action beneficial to the company
- virtual or real prizes to reward the achievement of pre-set targets or above average participation
- leaderboards or equivalent methods of comparing achievement to generate unspoken competition
- any psychological motivation derived from the aspects of gaming that motivate the desire to participate, win, or enjoy.
Gamification can be found almost anywhere, and the majority of the time its implementation is subconscious, as its most basic elements, those that target the underlying competitive nature in everyone, are fairly natural methods of motivation. From recycling, to shopping, to exercise, to learning, to healthy lifestyle, gamification is becoming an element incorporated into every walk of life. You can run, but you can’t hide. Although running may earn you the points for a 10% discount off those new trainers.