Hacking Economics with Gamification
Hello friends in the gamification world! I am a third year undergraduate from Hillsdale College in the United States. Gametize has offered me an amazing three months to explore and learn about a new industry called gamification which I knew very little about before coming here. After having seen Gametize’s full impact on its friends, clients, and partners, I’ve noticed that gamification is not just another useful marketing or employee training tool but rather something that can revolutionize the work place. Here is my economics prospective on why gamification will change the work place.
First, here is a quick summary of what economics is all about. Economics is the study of the choices humans make for the production of goods and services. Although many economists disagree on exactly how and why these choices are made, there are few fundamental beliefs they all agree on. One of these beliefs is that a transaction only occurs if it is mutually beneficial for both buyer and seller. I will purchase a laptop if I value it more than I value the $1000 necessary to buy the laptop. The world operates on this cost-benefit analysis system. Pretty simple.
Now, there is one commonly known exception to this rule: a person who enjoys his job. Although not everyone gets there, I think it’s common enough that all of us have at least met one or two people who have gotten there. I first noticed this exception in my calculus classroom. There was a student who really enjoys math. No matter what the other students and I did, we couldn’t compete with him. He wasn’t particularly smart but the number of hours he spent on math were just higher and more efficient. The cost-benefit motivation to do math always brought us to a point where studying more just was not economically feasible.
Gametize is trying to take that exceptional case and turn it into the norm. Speaking in Economics’ terms, it drastically reduces the hidden costs (non monetary costs) of working at a job, allowing employees to be way more productive. In the consumer sense, it’s to have very engaged and paying customers. However, what gamification does is quite difficult. Having some experience with gamification at this point I think it’s best to consider it difficult or unpredictable. Fun is just difficult to describe. The key is in knowing exactly which parts of the gamification succeeded or failed and why. It’s not impossible, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s actually all that easy either. This cost and benefit system is something Economics considers a constant, after all. Unlike everyone else who works with this system (of cost and benefit), gamification has decided to hack it. The cost-benefit system turns into a benefit-benefit system. In other words, gamification allows a person to enjoy getting what he wants rather than paying for what he wants.
I mention all of this because I think a lot of people who have heard of gamification think it is another useful marketing tool for engaging with customers. People leave with the impression that gamification is just about adding points, badges, and a leaderboard. It’s a cheap way of Gamification is the use of game elements in other non-gaming activities.