The Great Game: Of Paradigms, Creativity and Intrinsic Rewards … Lessons and Musings on the Joys of Gamification

the above awesome video is Jane McGonigal’s presentation to Cannes this year, at which Jane explored how we can harness the power of games to solve real-world problems and boost global happiness. Jane is introduced by PHD’s very own Mark Holden, who was inspired by Jane’s book to add a game layer to our global operating system, Source.

it’s been a genuine pleasure to have been involved in not just the development of Source over the last two years, but more recently being able to help lead the charge for the great gamification in the Australia. we’ve written a book called Game Change (available on Amazon from January) which explores the background, history and current context of gamification … and at the start of this month in conjunction with Mumbrella we facilitated a Gamification masterclass …

the amazingness of Colin Cardwell of 3rd Sense and Marigo Raftopoulos of the Strategic Games Lab led sessions which walked the assembled masterclass crowd through approaches, strategies and tactics for gamifying their own businesses or marketing efforts. whilst Colin and Marigo were talking I was struck by several things:

first up, and this is a point made brilliantly by Jane in the above presentation, gamification is genuinely a new paradigm in how we work. in his book The Play Ethic, Pat Kane suggests that “Play will be to the 21st century what work was to the Industrial Age – our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value” … the potential is huge – if we unlock even a fraction of the engagement currently spent on play to create shared human value the effects could be genuinely transformative.

the second though that occurred to me is that like any great project a problem well defined is a problem half solved. similarly when gamifying (I’ll call it G from here on in) a process, you need to be crystal clear on what your business and / or marketing objective is … applying G shares many of the same considerations and questions that a conventional approach to tackling a brief requires – don’t forget the basics.

Marigo and Colin both made clear the point that the process of G comprises around 10% design and 90% iteration. I was struck by the parallels in the efforts of game design and how marketing efforts work in a post-digi, content socialised age. in a reversal of the broadcast model (90% effort crafting the message, 10% effort towards shouting it as loud as possible), G requires that your projects have a beta sensibility (PHD’s Source is still in beta despite being live for almost a year) – think always on, always listening, always redeveloping, always creating, always deploying.

focus on what the ‘desired target behaviours’ are … what do you actually want people to do as a result of your gamification efforts? being really clear on this helps you navigate the mechanics that you look to bring to bear on a project or process.

G isn’t a replacement for an idea. the best examples of G often have an awesome, smart, idea at the heart of them. think the speed camera lottery or Jay-Z’s decoded (below) … in both these cases G isn’t a replacement for two awesome ideas – rather it was the approach that allowed the ideas to flourish. creativity counts.

the final thought that occurred to me was that when you think about the rewards you offer when gamifying a process, intrinsic beats extrinsic. always. perhaps it’s the Spotify Christmas playlist that I’m listening to as I write this, but G is a reminder that we are generally much more motivated by intrinsic forces (for the love of doing something) than we are by extrinsic rewards (eg payment) … yeah we can offer some dollars here or a prize there, but what really gets us humans going is a cause or task – no matter how audacious – that we can care about.

which gives us something to ponder between the mice pies and sprouts … whether its adding value rather than demanding attention (or as John Willshire would say ‘making things people want not making people want things’), designing utility, or creating communications that are as responsive and relevant as each and every user they reach – what does intrinsic thinking … intrinsic marketing look like when its radically embraced by marketing and communications.

speaking of intrinsic rewards, I’ll leave you with the first seven seconds of the below Mumbrella Hangout with me, Tim and Mark Holden. wait for it … “and we’re live”.

Merry Christmas everyone

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