It’s not a game

Though the IT solutions applied may play important roles in the achievement of our goals, but the most important is still understanding the underlying mentality, i.e. that tangible results can be achieved without major, corporate-level changes and effortlessly – gamification-projects often yield 20-30% efficiency improvements.

What you need to keep in mind

It’s not a gameGamification can be defined as any conscious activity aimed at transforming our attitude and behavior about certain things or phenomena into a feeling of playing a game, obviously in a positive manner. Be that a customer the company wants to address more intensely through social media or an employee that we wish to motivate to work even better by applying an internal solution, the core of the matter is the same: gamification can only be successful, if built on the logic of computer games of maintaining attention for long periods of time. Even though it is still a new discipline, in many western countries, it is already recognized and there are more and more gamification-based solutions on the Hungarian HR, marketing and IT markets.

The reason behind: motivation

To understand the significance of gamification, we need to explore the reasons behind it. Up to the beginning of the twentieth century, it was widely accepted that employees are like work horses that need to be made to work harder by reprimands or even by battery. The unskilled worker standing by the conveyor belt at Henry Ford’s plant and becoming like a machine part himself became a symbol of that concept. However, that archetype of the employee lost validity in course of the 20th century (mainly due to the evolving ideologies that turned the world upside down). In 1960, the famous American management expert, Douglas McGregor, in his book titled The Human Side of Enterprise, called the factory worker described above as belonging to generation X, while assigned the term generation Y to the youth growing up after the 2nd world war and taking a totally different approach to work than their predecessors, as they wished for a much more liberal and creative environment and involvement in decision making, as opposed to the ambitions of members of generation X.
Partially adopting, while partially transforming McGregor’s theory, in 1991, William Strauss and Neil Howe, in their book titled Generations, assigned new letters to generations of the century according to the challenges they had to face. It is according to that categorization that we call those who were born between 1980 and 1995, and are increasingly present on the labor market, generation Y. It is difficult to retain their attention and motivation for long by traditional methods, like the ones used at the time of Ford. Their motivation is greatly determined by the fact that they are digital natives, as they grew up in an age dominated by ICT technologies, and are not passive spectators, but active shapers of the digital world surrounding them. They were the first to adopt IT applications and games, which still play a significant role in their lives, as everyday practice. Nevertheless, IT applications and games had been present in the lives of previous generations, too, so gamification is not a privilege of new generations, but undoubtedly they are affected by it to a greater extent.

Trend or mindset?

You cannot separate the explosive growth of the computer game market from the behavioral and consumption patterns of generation Y. No wonder that large corporations in other industries also realized the potential of the gaming industry and asked the question of how they can generate continuously increasing revenues through games, but not in the gaming and game development sectors?

The concept of gamification first appeared around 2003-2005 in the form of game-like solutions applied in corporate environments, in which one could collect points for completing certain activities, badges for certain types of actions or number of points and leaderboards registered participants’ rankings (in short: PBL – points, badges, leaderboard). Still, it was only in 2006 that all these necessary but insufficient features were integrated into a unified mentality-methodology framework, by the internationally recognized expert, Gabe Zicherman, who linked gamification solutions to business potential and real incentive theory considerations. Therefore, any gamification solution, without regard to whether it is designed for external customers or internal staff, provides an output that is governed by rules, defines specific goals, lacks spontaneity, follows a structure, integrates with a given system and is applicable in real life. The last two features can be applied to most traditional games or simulations only to a limited extent, but are definitive in case of gamification. The real revolution of gamification started around 2010-2012 when the first such applications appeared in the United States, then around the world through Israel and Asia, and its early golden age started in 2013. The potential of gamification is proven by the fact that it is not considered a simple hype anymore, but is present in the world as an exactly measurable, real business trend.

It is an important question how open people at a company are to competences providing added value beyond a gaming software, like organizational development and consultancy, process development or maturity surveys, as it must be noted that solutions introduced in the spirit of gamification cannot bring about revolutionary changes or solves problems by themselves. If a company wants to launch a gamification solution with the purpose of improving efficiency, it will not achieve much in the long run, if it does not support it by organizational and process development measures. The abovementioned PBL solutions introduced in the early phase of gamification can retain people’s attention only for a limited period of time, while the most important feature of solutions aiming at either inside or outside the organization is long-term sustainability, with the exception of campaign-like efforts made to achieve some specific temporary goals. For example, if in order to launch a gamification solution on our company’s social media site with the purpose of having more committed, active customers, we need strong IT-psychology skills and continuous, substantive content generation.

Homo ludens

According to the “playful man”, i.e. homo ludens concept (based on the work of Johan Huizinga titled identically), human beings tend to seek activities through which they can feel free and useful at the same time. The success of the virtual reality provided by computer games and similar quasi addictive solutions stems mainly from the fact that one’s motivation to get involved comes from inside, not outside.

AdvenTures

It is a great challenge to make our colleagues submit their project hours in our project controlling system in time. This administrative task is not a favorite pastime. Mostly it is in the last days of the month that the data comes in, and as a result, Controlling does not get enough data in time during the month, while its staff are overworked when large amounts of data is dumped on them at last. It was in order to solve this issue, i.e. to improve the distribution of data submits within the month, that we developed our system-independent gamification solution called AdvenTures.

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