7 Winning Examples of Game Mechanics in Action

Original post by  via Mashable

Gabe Zichermann is the author of Gamification by Designand chair of the upcoming Gamification Summit NYC, where top leaders in the field – such as those profiled here – get together to share insight, key metrics and best practices. Mashable readers are invited to register with special savings at GSummit.com using code MASH10.

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems. In other words, it means taking the best lessons from games like FarmVilleWorld of Warcraft and Angry Birds, and using them in business. Whether targeted at customers or employees, across industries as diverse as technology, health care, education, consumer products, entertainment and travel, gamification’s impact can already be felt.

While some have criticized the concept of gamification as shallow or demeaning, the initial findings from gamification specialists are nothing short of astonishing. Regardless of your business model, the following seven gamified innovations should inspire you to strategize via game analysis.

1. Make a Market: Foursquare

The first incarnation of the location-based networking field was littered with carnage, leading many to write off the entire concept. But Foursquare’s founders, veterans of the now defunct Dodgeball, succeeded with an ace in the hole: game mechanics. Exposed to the concept while working at Area/Code (Zynga’s recently acquired New York City-based game design shop), Dennis and Naveen concluded that mobile social networking would work if you were to change the dynamic from multiplayer to single player.

Instead of depending on the action of the crowd to provide intrinsic reinforcement (e.g. “Hey, you’re around the corner. Let’s grab a beer!”), Foursquare overcame the empty bar problem by becoming a single-player game. The user competes for badges and mayorships whether or not anyone is there to meet him. In the process, Foursquare proved that location-based networking wasn’t doomed to fail, that simple game mechanics can affect behavior, and that you can engage 10 million customers — all while raising $50 million.

2. Get Fit: NextJump

When you listen to NextJump CEO Charlie Kim describe his zeal for physical fitness, you immediately understand the energy that has propelled this interactive marketing platform into one of the nation’s fastest growing businesses. But keeping fit isn’t just Kim’s personal goal — he told me it’s also a practice he believes his employees should value as a tool for improving their lives, reducing company insurance costs and preventing employee absenteeism. To achieve those goals, NextJump installed gyms in its offices, and built a custom application that enabled employees to check in to each workout. Ultimately, they rewarded the top performers with a cash prize. After implementation, around 12% of the company’s staff began a regular workout regimen.

But Kim wasn’t satisfied. By leveraging the power of gamification, he retooled the fitness “game” to become a team sport. Now NextJump employees could form regionally based teams, check in to workouts and see their team performance on a leaderboard. Leveraging the game themes of tribalism and competition had an astonishing effect on behavior. Today, 70% of NextJump employees exercise regularly — enough to save the company millions in work attendance and insurance costs over the medium term — all the while making the workplace healthier and happier.

3. Slow Down and Smell the Money: Kevin Richardson

In many countries, speed cameras snare thousands of drivers each year — a quick shutter flash earns a miserable ticket in the mailbox. In some countries, particularly in Scandinavia, ticket amounts correspond with the driver’s salary, rather than his speed. But Kevin Richardson, game designer at MTV’s San Francisco office, re-imagined the experience using game thinking.

His innovative Speed Camera Lottery idea rewards those drivers who obey the posted limit by entering them into a lottery. The compliant drivers then split the proceeds generated from speeders. Richardson used gamification concepts to turn an negative reinforcement system into a positive, incremental experience.

When tested at a checkpoint in Stockholm, average driver speed was reduced by 20%. If the plan were scaled across the U.S., the results could mean thousands fewer injuries, millions of dollars worth of reduced costs and substantial environmental benefits.

4. Generate Ad Revenues: Psych & NBC/Universal.


Psych is a popular program on the USA Network, but these days, creating value for TV advertisers means connecting to the web and social media in creative ways. Enter Club Psych, the online brand platform for the show, and among the first major media platforms to get gamified.

The brainchild of NBC/Universal executive Jesse Redniss, Club Psych implemented gamified incentives to raise page views by over 130% and return visits by 40%. The resulting rise in engagement has generated substantial revenue for the company, bringing registered user counts from 400,000 to nearly 3 million since the launch of the gamified version. The media conglomerate has since embraced the strategy across properties, bringing gamification to ratings leaders like Top Chef and the The Real Housewives.

Other content publishers, like Playboy, have seen similar results. Their Miss Social Facebook app has achieved an 85% re-engagement rate and 60% monthly revenue growth with gamification.



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LSR July Meetup (Gaming to Gamification) Presenter: Simon Bennett (roll7)

Simon Bennett - Director (RollingSound / roll7)

Simon Bennett is a Social Entrepreneur based in London, England. Over the past 10 years, he has started and grown three businesses within the youth, education and multimedia spaces. His current focus is on roll7, a Serious Games Developer and Digital Agency based in London and Coventry.

This September, roll7 (in partnership with Neurocog) will launch ‘Focus Pocus’ a groundbreaking serious game for children with ADHD – the world’s first research based application using Neurosky, a consumer BCI device developed in the US. The game uses gamification in ways never seen before in mental health applications.

Simon is passionate about games and their ability to engage young people, roll7 are currently working on a number of exciting digital projects from an HQ in New Cross, as well as a forthcoming R&D centre in Singapore in partnership with the SGI (Serious Games Institute).

Simon will be presenting roll7 and their innovative application at the London Silicon Roundabout July Meetup (Gaming to Gamification) on Thursday, July 7 at the Innovation Warehouse.

Focus Pocus Screenshots





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Mind Games: The Psychology of Gamification

Original post by Joey Strawn via Business 2 Community

The brain as gears

I’m a satisfied customer of Netflix. I’ve been a Netflix customer for about four and a half years and because of that, they have gotten quite good at suggesting movies my wife and I might like. Yet, the last two movies that came in the mail for us sat on our DVD player unwatched for almost a month each. We chose the movies that are in our queue. We sat down and purposefully and willingly added movies we wanted to watch to that Internet list, but when Netflix mailed us the movies we requested, we didn’t want to watch them. Why is that?

Basically what is happening to me (and many others) is that psychologically there is a gap between what I believe I want to do in the future and what I want to do right now. I build an aspirational list of movies that I truly believe I want to watch in the future, yet when those films arrive, I end up putting them on the shelf and watching more episodes of Phineas & Ferb or Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time. We want to be kind of people that watch serious movies and chomp at the bit to dive into The Kids Are Alright, but normally, Jackass 3 ends up on the television.

Our minds are tricky things and can really play a lot of dirty tricks on us if we aren’t careful, so how can gamification help us understand how our minds process information and how can it be used correctly to branch out from being “just another Internet fad”?

First Things First…

I’m a big proponent for the increased use of gamification. You may have noticed that I talk about it quite a bit around here and even use it to some degree on this blog (click on the red Rewards ribbon in the top corner if you don’t believe me). Let’s get one thing straight though right off, right now gamification is a fad. Sadly, it is overhyped and even more sadly it is misunderstood. Too often, gamification is equated as simple points and badges.

“You got to the morning status call on time. 10 Points. Work = gamified.”

Not quite.

To break out of the funk of Internet overhypation (that’s my word, but feel free to use it), gamification and game mechanics must be informed and studied aspects of a campaign or strategy, not just an 8-bit veneer. From here on out, when I talk about gamification, I’m talking about what should be one aspect of your plan, not a saving grace for your crappy service or product.

The Feedback Loop

This month’s issue of Wired magazine had an amazing article on the functions and applications of The Feedback Loop to the human psyche. I’m going to touch on some of the things they talked about, but I highly suggest you pick it up and read it for yourself.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Feedback Loop, it works under the premise that by providing people with information about their actions in real time and giving them an opportunity and motivation to change those actions, you can often lead people to better behaviors. Feedback Loops have been used for years, even back to the 18th century, when regulators and governors were used on steam engines and then furthered for human psychological study in the 1940s within the field of cybernetics. The Feedback Loop is also a guiding principle in gamification, so it’s not as much of a “fad” as people like to make it out to be. It’s simply becoming easier to measure and use in everyday life.

A Feedback Loop consists of four basic stages: Evidence Stage (data), Relevance Stage (data processing), Consequence Stage (data defining), and Action Stage (data usage). It looks kind of like this:

Feedback Loop[Image via globalwhelming.com]

Let’s take a look at the four stages of the Feedback Loop and see how they can be applied to gamification.

1. Evidence

The first stage of any Feedback Loop has to do with data collection. I’ll use the idea of behaviors as data for our examples of gamification Feedback Loops. So, behaviors must be measured, stored, and evaluated to hold any significant relevance to further steps. Behaviors must be quantified and then presented to the individuals taking part in the game. Information being sent back to individuals in real time is even more helpful because it gives an immediate view of how things stand for any player at any time.

One thing that’s making the craze of gamification spread so rapidly is the dropping price of and advancement in sensors. We can sense and quantify everything from energy usage, car fuel, brushing your teeth, walking and anything else you can slap a sensor on. In his talk Visions of the GamepocalypseJesse Schelle talks about new senors, saying “This is how games are going to get everywhere.” From the Wii Fit, to the PS3 Move, to the Xbox Kinect all on video game consoles, we are collecting data and then showing it to the participating individuals in real time.

As you see your Wii Mii mimicking your every move as you run around a fake beach, that’s the evidence stage of the Feedback Loop. Have you found a way to get information to your customers in real time quantifying actions you want them to improve? Mint.com has. So have ZyngaPlayfishEmpire Avenue and many, many others.

2. Relevance

As I used to say to my Statistics teacher in college after she spent hours showing us how to correlate numbers in Excel, “So what?”

Data means nothing if there’s no frame of reference. Let me repeat that for you:

Data means jack crap if there’s no point of reference as to why it’s important.

A speedometer showing your speed as you drive by has no meaning to you unless you know the actual speed limit for that area. Someone sensing and showing you your BMI means nothing if you don’t know what a healthy BMI level is (or even what BMI stands for). A credit score of 750 isn’t good if you believe it’s out of 45,000 instead of 800. You get the idea.

Your job, as users of gamification, isn’t to figure out a way to measure things you want your customers to do, your task is to figure out a way to relay that information back to them in a context that makes it emotionally resonant.



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Weekly Recap: gamification around the web

Original post by The Gamification Blog

In this week’s recap, Ikea has great flow, social networking platform Gigya announces game mechanics platform, gamification and games for public health, Keas cofounder Adam Bosworth shares his vision for the future, and the Guardian discusses gamification for the public good. Be sure to read the full stories.

Gigya Launches Gamification Suite for Making Web Sites More Fun

Gigya, a long standing social networking platform, just released a game mechanics suite as part of their product offering. Gigya CEO, Patrick Salyer, told VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi, “Gamification has been one of the most requested features from our clients, so we are very excited to bring to market a truly best in class social rewards product.” Some of those customers include GoodSearch, Fathead.com, CarDomain, VideoBash, Shoebacca and Daily Racing Form, and Gigya is entering into the gamification platform market with competitors Bunchball, Badgeville, and BigDoor.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ikea

Canadian news source Globe and Mail introduces the idea of gamification by taking a look at Ikea from a game designers prospective. They find that the store has excellent flow and a knack for engaging customers with trendy furniture and Swedish meat balls. Similarly, game designers look at long term engagement rather than simply pushing users to a point of sale. But gamification is not a panacea, “There are lots of games that suck,” says Daniel Debow, co-founder and co-CEO of Toronto-based Rypple Inc.“Just because they have badges and leaderboards doesn’t mean they’re good games. The underlying gameplay has to be engaging.”



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Gigya launches gamification suite to make web sites more fun (exclusive)

Original post by Dean Takahashi via VentureBeat

Gigya has made its mark by making web sites more social. Now it’s going to gamify them too. The company is announcing today that it will offer a Game Mechanics software as a service so that companies can make their sites more social and game-like as they seek to engage users who are otherwise bored with static web sites.

The company will compete with a lot of other gamification startups, from Bunchball to Big Door and Badgeville. But Victor White, senior marketing manager, said his company offers more like a one-stop shop where customers can add gamification as part of a wider selection of social features. The trend toward gamification — or making non-game web sites more engaging by making them game-like — has become a big bandwagon this year, as gamification is driving the next wave of web loyalty and rewards programs.

At this year’s Gamification Summit in January, Wanda Meloni, analyst at M2 Research, estimated that the production of gamification projects will generate $1.6 billion in revenues by 2015. That means it will grow from just 3 percent of social media marketing budgets in 2010 to more than 23 percent by 2015. The average growth rate for the next two years is 150 percent, in terms of revenues. Gartner also predicts that gamification will be a huge wave as big brands embrace it.

With Game Mechanics, Gigya customers can motivate users to get more engaged with a site through leaderboards and user achievements. Partners joining the launch include Fathead.com, CarDomain, VideoBash, GoodSearch, Shoebacca and Daily Racing Form. That’s a decent set of initial partners.



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London Silicon Roundabout July Meetup: Gaming to Gamification

UPDATED: A venue has been decided for the event.  We wish to see all of you on July 7 at Innovation Warehouse.


What: July Meetup (Gaming to Gamification)

When: Thursday –  July 7, 2011 6:00 PM

Where: Innovation Warehouse

1 East Poultry, 1st Floor



Gaming is increasingly influencing non-game applications on web and mobile sites alike.

Whether you’re a newcomer or a long-runner in the tech business world, you’ve heard of the term ‘funware’, used to describe the applications that are the end product of the process of gamification. We all regularly use funware without even realizing it, whether we’re collecting loyalty card points on a night out at our favourite restaurant, improving our seller rating on eBay or becoming the mayor of our local coffee shop on Foursquare.

In other words, gamified applications typically function as reward systems for consumers, earning the customer’s brand loyalty. So as a tech company you’re highly likely to be looking into how to make use of game play mechanics to build funware on your own site. Even if you’ve already installed funware on your site, you’ll be looking at how you can improve and evolve it.

Make no mistake that gamification is a trend that’s hotting up—and fast. With social gaming now a billion dollar industry, its development of game play mechanics is just going to keep on growing, which means that the resource pool for companies looking to gamify their sites is going to keep increasing too.

If you’re into Gaming or want to develop the next big game, the July meetup of the London Silicon Roundabout Group is the place to be.



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