Gamification to become increasingly prevalent in the world of business

15 August 2017 5 min. read
More news on

Marcus Thornley, Founder of Play Consulting, a consultancy and digital product innovation studio based in London and Dublin, reflects on how gamification is re-wiring brains and shaping behaviours in society and business.

Gamification can sound a bit phony, or like a buzzword. You aren’t alone; many people who work in the mobile games industry will have never once heard or used the word. Instead, industry folk simply focus on making great gaming experiences that focus on the users and players. 

Outside of the mobile games industry, by deconstructing what games actually are and by applying a games mindset to solve real life challenges in businesses, people can see for themselves just how powerful game approaches can be within business. And, more than ever, people can see how influential this games mindset can be outside of the common understanding of ‘games’; consumers, business leaders and even the nature of work itself, are all receptive to and driven by the triggers, stimuli and approaches that are all found in games.

Moreover, for reasons set out below, this trend is only going to speed up and become more prevalent in the world of business. 

Gamification will become increasingly prevalent in the world of business

A games mindset will revolutionise business

The notion that a games mindset and the use of game approaches has the ability to revolutionise engagement, motivation and behaviour has already been proven. At digital product innovation companies, such as Play Consulting, people are doing it day in and day out, across healthcare sectors, financial services, media, utilities and retail.

But this doesn’t mean that the use of game mechanisms, such as leaderboards, points, challenges, levels and badges, are able to make any difference on their own. Only once you understand the core of a product or service, and that the focus should be on the user/player and solving real life problems for real people, are you able to supercharge it with gamification; you can optimise the core loops, create the right tone and craft re-engagement. 

Above anything else, games are designed to be used to deliver that ‘win’ moment, emotional engagement and, ultimately, a change in behaviour. Amongst all the typical games features, such as creating characters and sometimes using guns or candy, there are engaging experiences that drive billions of people to dedicate their time to a game and, in turn, feel joy. 

Gamified since birth

In the last two decades games have expanded with great speed, mostly due to the growth of mobile platforms and devices. This year, the games market is estimated to be worth $100 billion, and growing by 9% every year – more than cinema and recorded music. The growth of the amount of users and players has also been exceptional; in 1995, there was an estimated 100 million gamers and now that figure has risen to 2.6 billion, and the average player’s age is now 35. 

Even more significantly than revenue and player base is the societal trend that games are causing, and Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report showed just this. Throughout the report, Meeker’s focus was on games and she drew on what is now the reality; Millennials and Generation X have been gamified since birth. So what does this mean? Well, it means the next wave of employees, customers, business leaders, regulators, partners and suppliers will all understand the games mindset. They’re wired to understand, respond to and thrive on games. 

The next generation embraces the games mindset - they’re wired to understand, respond to and thrive on games

Games are already being used for more than just, simply, a game. Take a look at some of the most successful products and you’ll see games approaches; Linkedin, Facebook, Trip Advisor, Tinder and Fitbit are all gamified and examples of how both customers, and often the leaders behind the products, have been gamified since birth. Games are now foundational to digital success. 

Looking forward

The games trend is accelerating. Games are the context in which new technologies – such as VR, AI and AR – can be introduced, optimised and reinforced. Here’s what we already know:

  • Billions of people have been hard-wired to understand, accept and respond to game approaches
  • A games mindset is core to many of the top performing digital products
  • We can only expect this trend to grow and see more and more new technology built on this mindset

The future is one where a games mindset will combine with personal data to allow us to self-optimise and win. The future will also hopefully be one where digital product innovators have a better term than gamification to describe their work but, until then, it can stay.