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By Nicholas Aaron Khoo, SVP Asia Pacific, Sandbox
What is the Current position of gamification industry and where is it heading in the near future?
Gamification is a significant part of this wave of technology disruption that we are currently experiencing. We have seen apps with gamification change the way things are done. My opinion is that, more and more industries, if not all, will be profoundly affected by gamification. Business leaders and decision makers have the option to either join in and start gamifying or run the risk of being disrupted by those who have gamified their products and services. Waze the traffic app is a good example of a gamified app where users are encouraged to beat the traffic monster while the app collects information about the traffic. Waze uses this data to predict the traffic conditions which resulted in Waze becoming one of the top apps for road navigation. Ingress is another example of an app designed by Google to improve maps through gamification. At Sandbox, we invested in a number of companies that gamify education and learning like Tinybop and Poptropica which are both seeing massive traction in number of users as well as user engagement times. Apps that do not have gamified content will struggle as a well-designed gamified offering always gets more users who use more and stay longer.
What according to you are the bottlenecks that are hindering the progress of technology?
There are many challenges I will just list out three that are higher up on my list. Firstly, gamification is difficult to master as it covers so many aspects from behavioral economics, innovation, UX and UI designs, game mechanics, and even neurobiology. You need a good development team from various disciplines in order for gamification to work. Also, the process of integrating gamification with business systems to generate returns on investment is challenging.
Apps That Do Not Have Gamified Content Will Struggle As A Well-Designed Gamified Offering Always Gets More Users Who Use More And Stay Longer
How has gamification affected your life?
I work for a company that invests in education and media. Some of the investments that we have made infuse a lot of gamification to education. Children learn about different topics through games and discover many things by themselves. I have young kids back home and they have benefited from these apps by learning about the world around them, whether it is about the human body, animals, skyscrapers, space and many more. For myself, one area gamification has benefitted me is in terms of motivation to complete tasks at hand—I track improvement, keep scores and analyze how I'm performing on a regular basis. For example, if I am spending too little time with my kids or eating too unhealthily, I have a gamified scoresheet to help me focus and get back on track.
Can you share with us some examples where gamification have been successful?
Sadly, I think 80 percent of all the gamified apps out there will likely fail if they are still around. That said, I can think of many successful examples where gamification seems to have yielded results. For example, Google had a hard time getting employees to use compliance for travel expense claims. Google then designed a travel expense system resulting in close to 100 percent employee compliance through gamification. Similarly, Dominos wanted to increase their sales revenue. They created an app called Pizza Hero where customers can create their own pizza with that app. This app helped users to build and create their own pizza and express their creativity. By implementing this, they increased their sales revenue by 30 percent, as more customers were motivated to create and enjoy the pizza of their choice. Microsoft wanted to improve the translation capability of windows and created a game for their in-house employees to identify translation errors. 26,000 tasks were completed and over 170 additional errors were reported and employees appreciated the opportunity to contribute while having fun. Even Volkswagen did something similar to Dominos by allowing users to create and design their own perfect car—they called it the people's car project. Through this initiative, they achieved 33 million webpage hits and 119,000 ideas for the project.
Technology and gamification has changed the way people do things, and I believe that now is the time for change to come to the education sector as well. Children may not be as engaged in the classroom as they are outside the classroom. However, when they play games like Tinybop, they spend a lot of time learning about the world around them without adult supervision. If I have a crystal ball, I see a future where everything will become increasingly gamified and those who do not master gamification may be left behind as well-designed gamified offerings always get more traction.