This article was originally posted December 31, 2010 on Green Marketing TV.
One of the hottest trends of 2010 was “gamification.” Gamification is the practice of adding game mechanics such as points, badges, levels, leaderboards, and rewards to everyday activities.
Gaming is a tremendously popular hobby among both sexes and nearly all age groups. It’s also a tremendously time consuming hobby. In 2003, people spent a total of nine billion hours playing computer Solitaire alone. It took only seven million human hours to build the Empire State Building in New York. Marketers have been trying for years to snatch some of the billions upon billions of hours spent gaming every year through methods such as in game advertising and product placement, but increasingly, they are making marketing efforts themselves into a game.
One of the fastest growing social networks of 2010 was Foursquare, a social gaming smart phone app that allows users to “check in” to their favorite restaurants, bars, and even laundromats, unlocking badges, competing for the position of “Mayor” at a particular location, and creating scavenger hunt-style “To Do” lists for their friends and fellow users in the process. Savvy businesses quickly jumped on the bandwagon, offering discounts and other rewards for customers who unlocked certain badges, or attained the position of mayor.
Marketers aren’t the only ones sitting up and taking notice. Games such as Health Month, Chorewars, and Epic Win tackle behavior modification and goal achievement with gaming elements and social networking, and a growing number of green businesses, social enterprises, and non-profit organizations are now seeking to harness the power of gamification for social change. The addictive power of gaming – and the rewards, recognition, and encouragement it can provide – can be used to promote positive social change in an almost unlimited variety of ways…