Contribution by Philipp Reinartz (36). He is the author, publicist, producer and managing director of the Berlin gamification agency Pfeffermind, which he founded in 2013.
For me, rethinking starts with Apple. It used to be like this: I buy a device, I work my way through endless user manuals – and if I still can’t get the device to work, I’m too stupid. Apple and other user-oriented companies have redefined the standard. The devices must be understandable. And the manufacturer’s job is to make sure it works without an instruction manual.
Such an empowering attitude prevails not only in the purchase of gadgets. We no longer accept tasks to be performed. Not as employees, not as customers.
From things to do to things to do
In the world of work, we are bombarded more than ever before. We need to learn more than ever before. At the same time, the line between work and private life is blurring – especially since Corona. But why do I have to struggle with a bumpy presentation at work? Although I mostly let the media have fun in my spare time?
Speaking of leisure: we are used to such excellent entertainment products that our requirements have increased. Why is my insurance company’s app getting on my nerves when I’m amused by my casual gameplay?
This is a real challenge for companies. A smooth process is not a good process. A product without defects is far from good. Decisive quality criterion: does it work? It’s all about motivational structures.
What does the challenge for companies come from: How do you turn “must-dos” into “want-dos”?
Elements of the game as a motivational reinforcement in the company
My answer: Watch matches. Games are motivating works of art. They captivate people for hours and motivate them to get the job done – with no benefit in the “real” world.
Gamification now means moving game mechanics to contexts outside the game. For example, on the company’s products and processes. Every trader should have these 5 trends on his screen.
1. Recruitment: Game test instead of an interview
We are getting closer and closer to the employee market. After the interview, the candidates thought uncertainly: Will I get a job? Today, after the interview, the recruiter wonders uncertainly: Can I get a candidate?
Employers are fighting for the best talent. It also means: as an employer, I have to offer my people something.
A lot of companies now rely on a fun application process. I need to play an online game to be invited. Or play a simulation of my future work on the iPad for the first 30 minutes in the Assessment Center – this will give my prospective employer some tips on multitasking skills, understanding and empathy.
Pros: As an employer, I can stand out from the crowd and start building an employer branding before I even know each other. And at the same time, I’m saving opportunities as I can replace some of the interviews in the application process – a win-win for both parties. However, acceptance stands and falls with the persuasive experience of gamification. A bad or random game is more of a deterrent.
2. Further training: internet game instead of conf
The days of a goal-oriented professional career are over. I no longer study until I am 25, and then apply my knowledge for the next decades. “Further Education” is no longer the annual two-day seminar in Fulda.
In the information age, we face the challenge of constant change and updating – lifelong learning.
More and more companies are therefore departing from classic training and wanting to offer their employees something. At SAP, employees play digital escape games to learn about IT security. The idea behind it: If a friend stops the virtual hacker, she will learn the rules of secure passwords and recognizing phishing emails. Show me, don’t tell.
Many companies rely on such fun educational sessions. From Bosch to Henkel to Deutsche Bahn. First of all, there are predestined topics that are considered particularly boring. IT security, compliance, company history.
Implemented as multiplayer games, the team spirit is also strengthened – especially in teams that work remotely and rarely meet outside of meetings.
3. Work processes: motivating instead of rewarding
Boring jobs reduce motivation. When everyday work is fun, whether in the office or at home, people are more motivated. So it makes sense to make routine activities more exciting through gamification.
But honestly, I’ve seen the most flops in this area. The reason is that many companies rely too much on external motivation. In the gamification scene, this is called PBL: Points, Badges, Leaderboards. Now it’s okay to award points or work with rewards or rankings. It is never the end in itself. Promising a bonus to the top salesperson or the hardest working service employee does not make their daily work more exciting.
Recently, companies are taking a much more fundamental approach, especially when it comes to repetitive activities. Entire work processes are redesigned and defined from the point of view of gamification.
As with the user’s journey, processes are studied in the sense of the player’s journey. And it asks the same questions as the game designer: Is the mission clear? Are the challenges attractive but solvable? Is there any feedback to help me orientate?
The goal is always to strengthen your inner motivation – instead of waving a treat. Companies from BSH to Zürcher Kantonalbank use gamified applications in the workplace to make their daily work more fun.
4. Marketing: branding game instead of advertising
Many companies still rely on forms of advertising to get in the way of what I actually want to do. TV, Youtube or Instagram – we hope it will end soon.
And this despite the fact that our brain stores information better when we were active while recording. The more of the five memory systems in our mind are involved, the better – and one of those systems is procedural memory.
Games as interactive entertainment formats are therefore predestined for positive brand engagement. Companies have two options here: to partner with successful games, for example through esports teams. Or create your own corporate games.
One thing is for sure: If a company develops its own game, it won’t be a triple-A game. No GTA, no Pokemon Go, no FIFA. Unless three-digit millions are invested.
Successful branded games are rather low-threshold, easy-to-learn, broad-target games that fit 100 percent into their own brand, and in many cases also clearly convey brand knowledge.
A mobile company that enables GPS hunting for customers while driving in public places. Or a textile company that explains the process of change to employees in the form of a casual game. I drive trucks, build warehouses and move to new levels – but at the same time I’m learning: One central warehouse makes logistics much easier than five regional ones.
The marketing area was open to gamification early on, but we are currently experiencing a new wave here. Away from quizzes and wheels of fortune – towards more complex applications. Because the requirements have increased here as well.
5. Product development: focus on having fun instead of being free from defects
The last major trend is the new use of gamification in – especially digital – product development. For many years, non-gaming applications have been built primarily on the premise: Everything has to work! Testing meant finding bugs, fixing bugs.
Occasionally, gamification was taken into account, but not infrequently in the sense: the product is actually finished, now let’s add a few charging bars and a point system to it. The result was a lot of costly apps that nobody used – because they were just not fun.
A lot has changed here recently. It is not enough to have an application in the store anymore. It has to be better than many others. And that also means: I have to enjoy using them!
In the meantime, gamification is usually considered right from the start. And testing is all about checking what is fun for your target audience and what is not.
The result here is mostly no games. These are functional apps ranging from health app to my car app. But they use mechanics that work well for games.
We live in a world where we use more and more technology that is becoming more and more digital every day. This is why gamification is growing in importance. So that the progressive mechanization is not perceived as cold, dead or dry. But fun and exciting. From things to do to things to do.