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06 May 2013

Gamification: A Long-Term Technological Trend?

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Gamification is a technological trend that is increasingly gaining strength and becoming a popular term. The main idea of  Gamification is the use of game techniques and processes in a non-game business context. Concepts are used for this that are applied by game designers to engage the audience such as difficulty levels, reward mechanisms and the identification of different types of players, etc. A thorough analysis of this trend can be found in the BBVA Innovation Center’s Innovation Edge magazine.

If you think about it, Gamification is not an entirely new idea but has been applied in certain industries for years (e.g. loyalty card points), although it had never reached the popularity it has been enjoying of late. Recent examples of Gamification can be found in all types of businesses from the banking sector (BBVA has launched BBVA Game to make its customers aware of the functionality and products available on its website), the military sector (the U.S. Army has created a video game to raise awareness of the corps and achieve more recruits) or social awareness (several social and environmental initiatives promoted by Volkswagen). Another fact of the indisputable impact of Gamification is that large training platforms such as Coursera already have courses on this trend.

Gamifying a product or service is not a simple process and has certain risks for companies. If Gamification is not done correctly, it can cause exactly the opposite effect of the desired goal, customer or employee disaffection from that product or service. To try to minimize this risk, new platforms and consultants with experience in the world of video games have emerged to properly lead such projects in companies. This issue is combined with the always difficult task of managing to properly assess the ROI of investments in ICT.

Nevertheless, although it is not a new concept and involves certain risks, what is the reason that Gamification is currently being adopted by a large number of companies? Obviously the answer to this question is not simple and is due to a set of combined factors. These include the expansion of new technologies among all types of customer regardless of age segment or social class and the search for new ways of marketing. The latter caused especially because traditional marketing mechanisms are failing when it comes to attracting new customers among increasingly technological and demanding young audiences (see “Game based marketing” by Gabe Zichermann).

It is clear that this trend can help businesses and Gartner estimates that 70% of the 2000 largest companies in the world will have used Gamification by 2014. Some of the questions that arise when reading this prediction are: are all business types really likely to be gamified? Are we going to be condemned to play in most of the services we use?

Is this a medium-term trend or has it really come to be permanently incorporated in our daily lives? 

Igor Delgado

Manager in the Corporate Data Warehouse, BBVA, Madrid (Spain)

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