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Pitfalls of Gamification

DZone's Guide to

Pitfalls of Gamification

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Gamification is undoubtedly big business, with the market set to be worth over $5 billion within the next five years. Despite it’s increasing popularity however, many gamification efforts fail to achieve the results expected of them.

Here are some of the main gamification traps you can fall into.

Treating gamification as an afterthought

Gamification is without doubt one of the hot trends of the moment, so it is tempting to try and force games onto your existing strategy. Often this leads to an application of game mechanics that adds little value and doesn’t link up successfully with your overall strategy.

Gamification applied correctly should be encouraging the kind of behaviours you wish to see from your employees, so start from there and work backwards.

Not sharing successes

This applies not just upwards to the sponsors of the program, but also across the company. People love to share what they’ve learnt or achieved, and this social proof can be used to further deepen the kind of behaviours you wish to encourage.

Forgetting about motivation

What is going to motivate your employees to participate in this? Many gamification efforts have a good initial impact before fading away as employees lose interest. This typically occurs because managers have not given sufficient thought to the motivations behind participation.

Suffice to say there is much debate over the benefits of intrinsic vs extrinsic forms of motivation, but the key thing for you is to carefully consider what rewards (of both types) will be given to employees to encourage participation. Remember, the goal here is to encourage the right kind of behaviours.

Failing to be interesting

Whilst the end goal will be to create such a culture that behaviours are automatic and natural, until you get to that point you will need to ensure your games are fun and interesting. So you’ll need to ensure your games are fresh and updated frequently to ensure people remain engaged with them. What was once innovative can quickly become staid.

Losing sight of the purpose

At the risk of repeating myself, the point of gamification is to foster the kind of behaviours you want to see from employees on a regular basis. It isn’t designed for aimless fun, so you need to make that clear at the outset to allay any fears senior managers might have that this will simply be something to allow employees to goof about.

Avoid these pitfalls and you stand a much better chance of achieving success with your gamification.

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