My esteemed colleague Gareth Fryer and I were asked to comment on Gamification today. After swearing for a few minutes, this is where we ended up.

Gamification is another over-hyped marketing buzzword. It’s Marketingification.

It sounds pseudo-scientific when it is simply adding a game layer to a typically non-game-related behaviour. Marketers have a history of inventing words to make something sound more interesting, important or complicated than it really is. For example: impactful, dollarization, brandstorming, ideation, leveraging, monetization, SoLoMo…

Gamification is not a substitute for a marketing strategy. It’s a tactic. It can be a very effective tactic but only once identified as being so after an analysis of business objectives and the role it might have in the lives of the people we’re interested in. Does it make business sense?

Effective game layers are a reward in themselves, requiring no additional incentive to participate as the mechanics are engaging in their own right. However, virtual and material rewards can stimulate participation. Reward mechanics where the game layers are not in themselves rewarding will not sustain engagement.

In summary, when done well, adding game layers to your marketing strategy can create a new context to engage people outside of the ways they usually interact with your brand or organisation.

It is also bullshit, I’m afraid.

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