When gamification fails!

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Experts would agree that gamification is here to stay – being touted as one of the key technological trends that will continue to pick up momentum in 2014. Having said that, Gartner has predicted that 80% of gamification efforts in 2014 will fail.

Before we delve into the causes of ineffective gamification efforts, let’s look at the definition. According to Gartner “Gamification describes the use of the same design techniques and game mechanics found in all games, but it applies them in non-game contexts including: customer engagement, employee performance, training and education, innovation management, personal development, sustainability and health.”

Gamification is said to benefit business in the following ways by applying game thinking in creating reward and motivation mechanisms to enable these key objectives:
1) Behavioural change
2) Skills development
3) Driving innovation
4) Talent sourcing
5) Social development & education
6) Health awareness & management

A good example of successful gamification is, ‘My Marriott Hotel’ – which attracted 25,000 players in the first week of going live! Marriott needs to hire and train 50,000 people per year to fill vacancies in  hospitality. They developed this game which allows prospective employees to play various hotel roles virtually and apply for a job.

Whilst this smart application of game thinking, in an operationally intensive & expensive HR process is an example of how gamification can succeed, there are many examples of gamification efforts that have been unsuccessful.

Let’s examine some of the causes of gamification failure:
• Is gamification the correct solution for your business objective? Will it appeal to
your target audience?
• Poor design – gamification requires the expertise of gaming designers who intrinsically
understand the mechanics that drive user engagement, interest, motivation & needs. It
also requires market research upfront to ensure that the game is enjoyable and will
resonate with your target audience.
• Rewards that don’t matter! If the objective of gamification is to achieve change by
motivating certain behaviour or outcomes, then the rewards offered by the game needs to
lock in users. If the player doesn’t value the reward – participation will wane.

1. 27 November, 2012. “Gartner Says by 2014, 80 Percent of Current Gamified Applications
Will Fail to Meet Business Objectives Primarily Due to Poor Design.”
2. Marczewski, Andrzej. 19 August, 2013. “Why Does Gamification Fail? A Few Reasons…”