I believe the most valuable gamification designs are those that can continue forever - those we call “infinite gamification”.There is no end, no top level, no last badge to win, it just keeps going.
Take the FIFA World Cup as an example - it’s a way of infinitely gamifying international football so that every four years any country can reach the top of the world. Didn’t win this year? We'll start training for the next competition and who knows where you’ll be in four years time!
I’ve noted three key things that you must know about infinite gamification and I’ll share them here with you. They will start you off and facing the right direction as you start to think about gamification in your own context.
ONE - Infinite gamification starts when you share a KPI, a target, a goal or a metric with your team.
Gamification doesn’t start when you call something “gamification” - it starts much much earlier. It starts when you share any metric with your team. If you’ve ever said to your team “let’s try and do better next month”, or “this is how many calls you managed last quarter” or even “let’s increase our share price!” - you’ve gamified them.
Every time you share any sort of quantifiable metric it becomes a score - because you are implicitly telling people - let’s improve, let’s optimise, let’s do better at this metric. You ask people to become players. And that’s gamification. If you’ve ever said “let’s be number one in our industry”, or “we want to be the best” you're even using the language of gamification to gamify your staff - you’ve focused their attention on a league that has some metric and some form of ranking, explicit or otherwise.
TWO - There are good scores and bad scores
When you first get given a score, your conditioning kicks in and you want to improve it. So you change you behaviour in the hope of getting a better score in future. But there are good scores and bad scores. Good scores send you in the right direction, bad scores lead to unwanted behaviours and undesirable outcomes.
Good scores send you in the right direction, bad scores lead to unwanted behaviours and undesirable outcomes.
Good infinite gamification design ensures that the scores you hand out are the right ones. Not just that but the way you compare teams and individuals with each other, i.e. the "league", is also something you can design well.The dangers of bad scores should be obvious but let’s take just one example of a badly designed score - Wells Fargo set up a system that remunerated sales staff based on the number of new accounts they created for their customers - it was only when millions of fraudulent accounts had been created did they realise they’d gamified their staff badly - the reputation damage that ensued almost brought down the entire bank! Getting infinite gamification right matters.
THREE - Using a gamification design process helps you get it right
Once you’ve recognised you are using scores to optimise team behaviour then you need to take a small step back and use a design process so you cover all the bases and avoid the common pitfalls. Whether you work with an experienced gamification designer or go it alone, there are some basic questions you must think through. There are different frameworks you can use.
In my book, Infinite Gamification, I outline an iterative 3 stage process called “Analysis - Design - Evolution” and provide a number of steps within each stage for you to step through. These include, for example, performing ‘stakeholder analysis’ to ensure you know who wants what from your gamification program and ‘late arrivals handling’ that provides proven techniques to deal with the issue of demotivation when new employees or players join a program where experienced players seem too far ahead.
The book is designed for any business manager looking to enable and improve team performance. In the book you'll find 88 other pages with ideas, checklists and examples for you to put to immediate use.
I hope this article has piqued your interest and you'd like to find out more! If so here are some further resources:
- Book - Infinite Gamification: motivate your team until the end of time - at Amazon. It's also available in Turkish as Sonsuz Oyunlaştırma
- Blog - latest thinking, interviews and resources can be found here at www.infinitegamification.com
- Design Canvas - You can download and print for free the Infinite Gamification Canvas
- Software - rise.global is an online app which makes it easy to calculate the scores, display scorecards and leaderboards and notify your players on your infinite gamification program.