KEY #1

Identify the business goals and needs to which your gamified system has to respond

“We’re not (only) here to have fun” could be the first warning to keep in mind. There’s a real danger of the “play” side of things taking precedence over business goals. When poorly thought out, game playing can easily be disconnected from corporate needs and become an end in itself, which is why it’s vital to define and justify your goals if you want your project to succeed.

Define SMAC objectives

Acquiring new knowledge, increasing learner engagement, reinforcing collaborative behavior or developing certain skills… the type of goal will depend on your corporate needs at a particular point in time.

First of all, your goals must be specific. Answering the questions What? Who? and Where? is an essential preparatory step when implementing an effective gamified environment. Enhancing sales force performance and improving team manager skills are examples of specific goals.

You also have to set measurable goals in order to quantify the success of your gamified system. To achieve this, you can reformulate simple intentions to make them into goals. For example, your company might want to increase staff knowledge of certain products by 80%.

Third, your goal must be achievable; otherwise, it will become a source of discouragement instead of motivation.

Last but not least, your objective must be consistent with your corporate environment — for example it mustn’t be incompatible with the corporate culture of your company.

If you apply these simple rules, your gamified system will produce tangible business results that respond directly to your corporate requirements.

Note that collecting badges and points or being a top scorer are not goals per se, but rather means to an end: they’re springboards that help you to achieve your business goals.


Justify and prioritize your goals

Why these objectives? And more importantly, why use gamification to achieve them? You have to justify your goals to get your staff on board, which means they need to know what the goals are, and they need to understand them fully.

Where on-line training is concerned, if you want learners to get involved you have to motivate them, and that entails clearly explaining what’s at stake. It’s vital to be totally clear about your objectives. It’s up to line managers to explain to their teams at the very start why this type of program is being made available to them and how it works. They have to be clear about what the overall objective is, and about the rules governing the assessment procedure.

It’s also important to list your goals according to their priority. This will allow you to flag up unnecessary duplications and remove any goals that are not directly related to the needs you’re trying to address.

KEY #2

Identify Player Profiles

Accurately identifying what motivates your players is a great way of grabbing their attention

Who are they?

  • Their career paths: what are their educational qualifications? Their experience? Their training? This will help you identify communities of players based on their professional profile and their role in the organization.
  • Their personalities: what is their psychological profile? For example, will they be more sensitive to challenges than to social interactions?
  • Their demographic and cultural parameters: country of origin, age group, gender, and so on

Dividing your players (learners) into groups will allow you to provide more targeted responses to individual needs. Although you must naturally begin by defining corporate objectives, it’s just as important to identify the goals of each target group. By adapting corporate goals to the needs of these different groups, you increase the chances that your gamified system will work.

Using gamification will also allow you to improve your knowledge of staff members by collecting a range of behavioral data and identifying certain profiles (leaders, followers, etc).

What motivates them?

It’s up to you to determine what parts of the game will be motivating factors for your players. Finding out new things? Working together? Exploring? Interacting? Problem-solving? Being the center of attention?

Generation Y probably won’t be motivated by the same things as Generation X, which means it’s really important to know your staff well. If the game functions in way your target learners can’t relate to, they won’t find it motivating. For example, if a staff member doesn’t really enjoy teamwork, developing a collaborative game is unlikely to be of much interest to them.

However, although people now work in a more and more connected world, learners still have to get to grips with the way a game works according to their age and professional profile. People working in different fields want different things, and sectors such as PR and advertising that tend to recruit younger staff will probably be more receptive to gamification than others. Your youngest staff members, who were more or less born with a game console in their hands, will also be more comfortable with “hi-tech” games.

Richard Bartle, a writer, teacher and researcher in the field of games, has defined a model that identifies typical player profiles. He has linked behaviors and motivational factors to each profile.

The Richard Bartle model

Defined by: A focus on winning, rank, and direct peer-to-peer competition
Engaged by: Leaderboards, Ranks

Defined by: A focus on attaining preset goals quickly and/or completely
Engaged by: Achievements

Defined by: A focus on socializing and a drive to develop a network of friends and contacts
Engaged by: Newsfeeds, Friends Lists, Chat

Defined by: A focus on exploring and a drive to discover the unknown
Engaged by: Obfuscated Achievements