Magazine article CRM Magazine

Another Round of Gamification: Get Customers onto the Winning Team-Yours

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Another Round of Gamification: Get Customers onto the Winning Team-Yours

Article excerpt

AFTER A LONG DELAY, I've started to read Reality Is Broken, a brilliant and, dare I say, game-changing book. The author, Jane McGonigal, posits that gamification--adding elements of games to non-gaming activities to encourage participation--is a natural trend of software and experience design. If we have the tools and creativity to make the more boring facets of our existence more bearable, why stick with drudgery?

I am a person of business, a thinker, a procrastinator, and a colossal nerd. The idea of gamifying CRM appeals to me. Gamification can fundamentally alter business for customer and worker alike. So why am I only now reading arguably the most important book on the subject (until I write my own, that is)?

You may think I procrastinated, but you'd be wrong. I've been burned before on this topic. In an October 2007 column, I discussed gamer-influenced design in CRM as made popular by now-defunct vendor Entellium. I was a huge proponent of the company and its philosophy, so I was crushed--and furious--when the whole thing went down for wire fraud. There were good ideas there, and I hated that they would likely disappear because of their tainted association.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I should not have worried. McGonigal's work, and that of others, shows there's a lot we can mine from games. The idea isn't new, either; an entire branch of mathematics has emerged since the 1950s devoted to game theory, the study of making optimal choices and predictions on the choices and predictions of other "players," whether in a game or in hypothetical situations. Fascinating, but not my focus this month.

Videogames for home computers and consoles have become incredibly expensive to produce, and a studio can become the next hot property by turning out a hit--or it can wind up shuttered because of an underperforming release. Fans may be loyal to a developer and its products, but once those folks have walked away, they're likely gone forever. Keeping players interested in an older title is a cost-effective tactic for developers who can pull it off, but generating new content carries costs of its own. It used to be much trickier, until developers learned to outsource the process--to players.

When we talk about brand co-creation, there is no finer example than what happens daily in the game industry. …

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