BY MATTHEW GEORGHIOU (@MEDIASPARK) | CEO OF MEDIASPARK
Imagine if earning a living, getting an education, or developing talents of any sort was just a game. Imagine if every smooth move, every good choice, and every new relationship you developed earned you a virtual (or real) reward. Imagine if work had a payoff as well as a paycheck. Well, imagine no longer. Through a computer, mobile device, or interactive television, you will soon find your work and life being gamified.
Gamification captures the essence of applying gaming techniques to non-game activities, such as education, job performance, or life in general. It’s a new buzzword that you are going to hear a lot more of in the coming years.
Why? Because it has very real potential to transform how we live, work, and play.
It is a given that games have been around forever. In addition, most of us actually experience gamification on a daily basis. We are constantly applying gaming techniques when we challenge ourselves to do an extra rep during our workout, seek a promotion at work, or encourage our kids to finish their meals in return for a nice dessert or a star on the refrigerator.
How will gamification affect our lives in the future?
Companies are already applying gamification to all sorts of industries. My company (www.MediaSpark.com) has been doing it for over a decade in education. Here are industry-wide examples that will emerge in the coming years:
Games are already transforming the way we learn. Reading textbooks and listening to lectures will be enhanced, and in some cases replaced, with games that allow students to directly experience the topic they are trying to learn. Instead of reading about business, run an actual business in a game or simulation. Instead of reading about rocket science, build a simulated rocket and send it into virtual space.
Employees make mistakes. New employees make even more. In this way, employee training will be accelerated with the use of simulation. Games and simulations enable people to learn faster and make mistakes in a risk-free environment, instead of on the job. Employees will also have the opportunity to discover the key metrics of the entire company, and not just their own roles within it (e.g., be the virtual CEO of your own company). Best practices and complex equipment will be simulated. Games will be used to motivate action, develop skills, encourage collaboration, direct performance, and instill customer empathy.
Yearly job performance reviews will be replaced with real-time metrics demonstrating how you are doing. You will not have to guess on what your boss or co-workers think of your work; you will see the results as soon as they happen. Good team player? Poor follow-up? Strong ideas? Earn or lose bonus pay and rewards based on performance. If you don’t like what you see, you will now have the information to change it – before it’s too late. Better for you and better for the company.
Personal Health and Lifestyle
Going to see the doctor when something is wrong or for a periodic checkup will be replaced with a real time monitor of your health. You will earn rewards for inputting your health status, what you eat, and how you feel. You can also watch your progress over time along with your financial health. Instead of the monotony of paying bills, saving a few dollars, and doing your taxes, you will earn rewards for making good decisions while avoiding bad ones – in real time. You will be more conscious of how you spend your time and prioritize your activities. In this way, you will be more productive and self-aware.
Advergaming has been hot for many years now, and social gaming has exploded. Integrating the consumer (that being you) into advertising and brand-building through personal rewards earned during gameplay or related activity is becoming more commonplace, and will ultimately change advertising and consumer trend forecasting as we know it.
Politics and Media
The world has already seen the power of globalization and social networking facilitates the toppling of long-standing political regimes. The ability to instantly share information and harness the influence and intelligence of crowds is now upon us. Imagine if the masses could be organized and influenced with real-time rewards for supporting or expressing certain opinions or taking specific actions. It’s a powerful force that can be mobilized for positive social transformation.
Video games already generate bigger sales than the Hollywood movie industry. Games and toys are being turned into movies and brand franchises, and mobile and tablet apps are transforming the entire computer industry. Global social gaming and massively multiplayer worlds will soon become mainstream, but they will not be some side activity that you do while sitting quietly on a computing device. Instead, they will be seamlessly integrated into your daily lives.
Consider the premise that, in business and in life, there is no substitute for experience. Sure, there’s something that can be said for the energy and try-anything attitude that comes with naivety, but the single most important factor for future success is past experience. Everything an entrepreneur does today, whether a success or failure, will build on the experience that ultimately leads to success, either in the entrepreneur’s own business or one in which she is participating in some way. Experience is the epitome of “pay it forward.”
There are two ways to gain experience: in the real world through our daily activities; or, virtually in an activity, game, simulation, or virtual world. Intuitively, we might automatically believe that there is no substitute for gaining experience in the real word. But, I’ve learned that this is not true. Rather than listing the specific benefits of virtual experience, consider this: How much time, money, risk, and heartache does it take to start and run a business before an entrepreneur gains sufficient experience to improve success? How much would it take to create 1,000 entrepreneurs? The answer is “too much.” Facilitating entrepreneurship through real-world experience is not scalable (it’s quite painful, in fact). Virtual experience is the only solution, and it’s the reason why I’ve been in the business of delivering such experiences for many years (see www.GoVenture.net).
Further to our efforts to bring entrepreneurship to the world in a highly-scalable way, my team is about to launch a global multiplayer online game that will deliver authentic entrepreneurship experience, virtually, to potentially millions of people. GoVentureWorld.com has already been identified as one of the top 50 brightest new startups around the world.
Why does this matter? Because many people believe, as we do, that entrepreneurship is the solution to community economic development and nation building. A tool that can quickly inject entrepreneurial thinking into millions of people around the world is a true game changer.
Gamification – ready or not, here it comes. You’ve already earned one gold coin for reading this article.
Mathew Georghiou is the CEO & Chief Experience Designer of MediaSpark Inc, entrepreneur, engineer and author. He is a designer and publisher of educational games, simulations, and social networks, as well as a gamification and business consultant.