Category Archives: Gamification

Posted on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 @ 7:30 am

With Gartner’s prediction that gamification will head into the “Trough of Disillusionment” in their Hype Cycle within the next year, it’s important to take a step back and be realistic in our expectations of gamification. As with any new technology trend, there will be early adopters of gamification who stumble. It’s easy to be seduced into quick action by the promising potential of this technology without understanding the challenges that go with it first.


Garnter anticipates that most failed applications will result from the “lack of understanding of game design and player engagement strategies”. Gamification requires a command of both of these in order to effectively motivate users, but they are complex topics that will take a good deal of exploration in order to master in an application. Because of this, most early attempts at gamification will fall short of their targets to change behavior. But like all good innovations, the motto is to fail early and often. Don’t spend a lot of time planning and building a grand design before getting any user feedback.

Build a basic version, often called a minimally viable concept (MVC), and get it out into the hands of your users. Measure their response by analzying the data metrics you have designed into the software and watch social media for their feelings. You will learn much more of how people really think and act by doing this than you ever will by just imagining what they are thinking. Then take that feedback and quickly incorporate it into the next version of your gamification software. You will iterate quickly to a version that drives behavior and is fun as well.

But don’t stop there. Good game designers constantly tweak and improve their game to make sure it stays relevant and interesting. This is true for gamified business software as well. You must be willing to continue your efforts after the first version in order to achieve the rewards you seek over the long term.

Next Steps

If you are ready to translate gamification theory into action in order to effect change in your customers or employees, you should engage a firm with great game designers and software engineers experienced in this kind of software development. ObjectFrontier, Inc. (OFS) specializes in helping companies design and build innovative and engaging software to drive revenue, improve performance, and build brand loyalty. We are happy to talk with you to help develop and plan next steps toward reaching these goals in your organization. Click here to speak with OFS.



Posted on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 @ 8:00 am

Check out the following specific examples of gamification to learn how other businesses are embracing gamification to encourage certain customer behaviors and achieve their business goals.


  1. Product Interest– Autodesk offered a free trial of their expensive 3D modeling software program to commercial software designers. Commercial designers are largely unfamiliar with 3D techniques, used in video game design, so the trial was intended to show them the possibilities the software offered. Autodesk knew the longer users stayed with the trial, the more likely they were to license the software. But 3D modeling is difficult to master, especially through traditional tutorial instruction, and many of these commercial users got frustrated and quit. Gamifeye explains how Autodesk then redesigned the software trial as a game, called The Apocalypse Trigger,using a fun theme ─ solve the “Mystery of the Missing Gems”. The missions take you around the world to different examples of famous architecture that the user must then create 3D models of in order to find the gems and win the game.The interactive levels and elaborate imagery appeal to this visual audience and have helped them learn the Autodesk software. The results: Trial time increased by 40% and conversion from trial to license holders increased by 15%.
  2. Customer Engagement: Nike has been using software for a number of years now to gamify its customers’ workouts through its NIKE+ program. Using special chips in their shoes or wristbands, customers can track all their fitness stats daily, including how far, fast, and long they ran, they can sync it to their mobile device, compare their stats with other users, win virtual trophies, and share their stats on social media for support and encouragement from their network. Nike has turned working out into a game through this hardware and software, going beyond the shoes and apparel they sell to engage customers with their brand in a new and effective way.
  3. Customer Engagement- NBC, home of the hit TV show The Office, commissioned an online game to extend the show’s engagement with fans beyond the television screen. Bunchball created a virtual office space for them with interactive tasks and challenges, including applying for a job with Dunder Mifflin, creating an employee profile, and participating in company challenges. Completing these activities earned users points that could then be exchanged for virtual goods, which showed loyalty and knowledge of the show and encouraged fan devotion.
  4. Customer Engagement: The Home Shopping Network, which sells merchandise on TV as well as online, wanted to create a way for their customers to continue interaction with their brand while online. Knowing that their clientele was predominantly middle-aged women, who make up about half the users of social gaming, HSN launched an online arcade full of entertaining games that award users tickets for gameplay. Scores can be shared with others for social interaction, and tickets are used to enter a multitude of HSN prize drawings that feature their products. Jill Braff, EVP of Digital Commerce at HSN, explains how over the first year, 650,000 users logged 116 million gameplays. Arcade users spent twice as long on the HSN website, returned twice as often, and purchased more units of merchandise and in more categories than their non-arcade customers. HSN is working now to create games that integrate with their product offerings in order to further engage customers, as they have seen firsthand that increased customer engagement leads to increased customer spending.
  5. Customer Loyalty- Airline loyalty programs, like United Airways’ MileagePlus program which awards and tracks points for purchases, are one of the earliest forms of gamification. Earn enough points and you become a Silver, Gold, or Platinum member, giving you access to special lounges, priority boarding, seating upgrades and free tickets. Some customers are so devoted to their status level that they make unnecessary flights at the end of the year just to maintain their premier status for the next year.
  6. Customer Loyalty- Samsung Electronics created the customer loyalty program Samsung Nation which utilizes levels, badges, and rewards in order to drive traffic to its website and increase user-generated content. Kelly Liyakasa of DestinationCRM reports that the result of their gamified effort saw the loyalty program gain 66% more users, 447% more product answer submissions, and 34% of users purchased 224% more Samsung products than before the gamified loyalty program.
  7. Customer Loyalty- Disney created an online gamified loyalty rewards program called Disney Movie Rewards. Users earn points for every Disney Blu-Ray, DVD, CD, and theater ticket they purchase. Users can also earn points by testing their Disney knowledge in quiz games and by taking surveys. Points can be cashed in for Disney merchandise and experiences exclusive to the rewards club. Special sweepstakes, coupons, and kids activities are also offered to participating members. Disney keeps customers engaged with their brand through this gamified loyalty program, and they get to learn more about their customers through tracking their purchase history and survey answers.
  8. Product Knowledge- Microsoft created Ribbon Hero to help customers learn how to use the many features in their Microsoft Office Suite. Their recent updated version, called Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy’s Second Chance, stars Clippy the Paperclip as he applies for a new job as a scientist’s assistant. When they scientist’s time machine experiment goes wrong, Clippy is transported back in time and must complete different tasks and challenges in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Notebook in order to get back to the present day. Users learn and practice skills level-by-level in fun, history-themed challenges in order to gradually learn how to use the Microsoft products. Rather than reading a manual or going through a tedious tutorial, users can engage in a fun game to master the same knowledge and grow more familiar with the Microsoft brand.
Posted on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 @ 8:00 am

The concept of gamification is everywhere now, but actual examples of it are harder to come by. Read on to discover specific examples of how other businesses are embracing gamification to influence employee behavior and achieve their business goals.



10 Examples of Employee Gamification:

  1. Training- Deloitte Leadership Academy, a digital training program for 50,000+ senior executives in companies around the world, has inserted gaming elements into its online leadership development portal. Trainees get a feeling of accomplishment when they participate, submit comments and ideas, and complete course modules in the program because of the badges, leaderboard rankings, and rewards they receive. Their progress can then be shared on social media for further encouragement and praise. Within the first 3 months of deploying the gamified program, Deloitte witnessed a 46% increase in the number of trainees returning to the site daily.
  2. Training- Xerox’s management training program embraced gamification to better engage trainees and to combat high turnover. The company introduced a gamified application called “Stepping Up to Management” to complement its existing program. It allows management trainees to go on quests to apply their learned skills to real work scenarios. Quests can be done alone or with others for social interaction, and progress is noted on leaderboards, resulting in a more engaging training program and a lower trainee turnover rate for Xerox.
  3. Employee Retention- Live Ops, a call center outsourcing firm with more than 20,000 independent agents from across the nation who work from home, wanted to gamify its employees’ activities in order to engage them in their work and decrease their turnover rate. Andre Bourque of Social Media Today describes how the employees interact with their new gamified system, earning points based on their speed in completing customer service calls, the number of calls they take, and the level of customer satisfaction they receive. The new program experienced an 80% adoption rate in the first week! Adopters outperformed non-users by 23% in their call metrics and their length of employment doubled the company’s previous average.
  4. Employee Retention- OFS recently helped a client experiencing very high turnover rates with their customer service representatives, who have a repetitive, tedious job hearing and filing customer claims over the phone. OFS designed a gamified software system that incorporated points systems, badges, leaderboards, avatars, and ‘music in the ear’ rewards to increase the fun and encourage more active engagement among the employees.
  5. Attracting New Talent- Marriott created a hotel management simulation game called My Marriott Hotel in which players are appointed hotel kitchen manager and have to handle all the responsibilities and challenges that go along with the position. From ordering the right ingredients, to purchasing equipment, to hiring your own kitchen staff, the game exposes users to the hotel business and leaves an appealing impression on them as they earn points and rewards for successful gameplay. A “Do it For Real” button takes users to a Marriott job board where they can apply for real employment opportunities. Alexandra Berzon of The Wall Street Journal explains that through this game, Marriott is looking to attract the millennial generation to the hospitality industry, especially in developing countries as the company expands and needs to hire capable new employees quickly.
  6. Attracting New Talent- The Swedish Armed Forces created an online game comprised of various skill tests to encourage users to see if they have what it takes to join their military. The skill tests are engaging and competitive, requiring critical thinking, time management, and teamwork in order to successfully complete difficult challenges. Every challenge score is recorded, and users can see how they match up against other players. Links to officer role descriptions and how to become an officer are sprinkled throughout the game to entice users to learn more about joining if they excel in the challenges.
  7. Motivation and Productivity- The retailer Target has been successful in motivating its cashiers to improve the speed of their scanning through a simple form of gamification. Rachael King of Bloomberg Businessweek shares how cashiers receive a green, yellow, or red rating on their register screen after each checkout, depending on their speed. The immediacy of the feedback evokes a game-like experience, encouraging them to scan items faster the next time in order to get the highest rating.
  8. Motivation and Productivity- NextJump, a provider of loyalty and rewards programs, wanted its employees to be more active in order to improve their health and to lower healthcare premium costs. So NextJump opened a free office gym, but only 5% of its workforce was using it on a regular basis. It then set up a contest where the top 4-5 gym-using employees had a chance to split a $20,000 prize. This only led to 12% employee participation, however. Then it established cross-office, talent-balanced teams and a live leaderboard application, FitRank, to stimulate and track competition, as well as “WOWPoints” ─ virtual currency to incent the behavior. Now 80% of the workforce exercises there 2+ times per week. Check out their CEO’s presentation on the results, posted by Gabe Zichermann.
  9. Innovation- The World Bank created a gamified application called EVOKE, designed to encourage young people to devise innovative and effective solutions to real-world social problems the World Bank is facing, like hunger, poverty, healthcare, and education. The application utilizes appealing video game techniques and social networking to engage users as they work to find new solutions to these age-old problems. Top-performers win real-life scholarships and mentorships with experienced social innovators and business leaders from around the world to foster their innovative ideas.
  10. Innovation- The United Kingdom’s Department of Work and Pensions created an application called Idea Street to increase employee collaboration and facilitate the sharing of new project ideas. Jeff Lopez of Gamification Corp explains that the satisfaction of contributing ideas, getting quick feedback, receiving badges, and moving up on the leaderboard has motivated the department’s employees to use the application. Within the first 18 months, about 4,000 employees generated 1,400 new candidate projects on Idea Street. From this, 63 projects have been implemented by the Department. A case study on Idea Street’s success is available from Gartner.

Look out for our next blog post on how to engage customers through gamification!



Posted on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

gamification_dice-resized-600You’ve heard about gamification.  You understand the benefits it could bring to your business.  You’ve seen examples of how it works, and now you’re ready to begin moving forward with using it towards achieving your business goals.  But before you do that, it’s of paramount importance that you also understand why many gamified applications fail.  Gartner predicts that by 2014, “80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily because of poor design.”  What is it you have to consider in designing gamified applications in order to maximize their potential for success?

To get to the core of the why gamified apps fail, one must first go back to the essential goal of gamification.  Gamification strives to direct a certain desired user behavior predictably through the use of game dynamics in a non-game activity.  Remember that games have influential appeal because they satisfy human nature’s desire for achievement, and thus they make us want to participate and do well.  But are humans attracted to every and any game?  Surely you can think of a number of games you don’t enjoy playing.  Some games are too hard that they easily frustrate players, while some games are too easy to win.  Some games are too complex in their design they are difficult to understand, while others are too simple they become boring.  There is definitely a sweet spot that every game design must hit.  It’s a balancing act that takes into account how to best reach and influence human behavior.

As gamification guru Gabe Zichermann states in his book Gamification By Design, “Gamification is 75% psychology and 25% technology.”  Games will succeed mostly because they are designed to appeal to the human mind, not because of their flashy graphics.  People will play games because they are fun and satisfying, so if you can make something work-related more fun by using elements of gaming, you can influence people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.  That’s what makes gamification work.

This is a tall order, though, as many project managers tasked with gamifying a company application are finding.  There is a lack of game design talent to use toward these projects.  Too often in these early days of gamification, designers will get caught up in the basic gaming elements of points, leaderboards, and badges without diving deeper into the more subtle and, frankly, more important elements of game design, including things like balancing competition and collaboration, or defining a meaningful game economy, as explained by Gartner’s Brian Burke.  Because they are missing these key elements, many “organizations are simply counting points, slapping meaningless badges on activities and creating gamified applications that are simply not engaging for the target audience,” says Burke.

To successfully gamify an application, there are three elements that Burke emphasizes must be present:

  1.  Motivation
  2.  Momentum
  3.  Meaning

Disregarding any one of these components will cause a game to feel unbalanced to its users and will discourage continued use.  Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening to most of today’s early attempts at gamification.  Make sure to follow the 3 M’s in order to avoid this:


For your gamified app to succeed, people have to want to use it.  They have to be motivated to continue to choose the behaviors you desire out of them.  Motivation occurs from two types of rewards: extrinsic and intrinsic.  Extrinsic rewards include points, money, and grades that users desire to receive from outside themselves.  Game designers can easily incorporate these features into a gamified app.  The more challenging motivator to tackle is the intrinsic, which comes from within the individual due to the interest they have in the task and the enjoyment they receive from completing it.  Beyond the points, beyond the leaderboards, your application must be something users actually want to use.  Finding a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards is essential to a successful gamified app.


Games must be able to maintain their users’ engagement.  A game that is too simple or easy will quickly become boring.  A gamified app needs to be able to immediately engage its users and continue their interest.  Game designers can establish an engaging momentum through the use of rules, levels, challenges, chance, and rewards.  At the same time, designers must be careful not to make a gamified app too challenging, as that will also hurt a user’s momentum because of confusion and frustration.


Users must be able to see and value the larger purpose behind why they are using your gamified app.  Make sure your users understand the application’s intentions for them and that they feel they are contributing toward that purpose.  Human nature desires achievement and a sense of fulfillment, and gaming elements are very good at satisfying those needs.  Make sure your app is able to do this for your users.

Though there is a certain novelty around simply applying points systems to a company’s applications, businesses will soon find that the novelty fades fast, and they will be left with a poor excuse of a gamified app that does little to advance their business goals.  Avoid this by remembering the 3 M’s- Motivation, Momentum, and Meaning.  Make them the focus of any gamification initiative you undertake, and you will give your gamified app the best shot at being a successful avenue for accomplishing your business’s goals.

Posted on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

gamificationbanner-resized-600As gamification continues to gain momentum in the business world today, it’s not surprising that M2 Research predicts the gamification market will reach 2.8 billion in direct spending in the US by 2016.  But what is it that businesses are looking to have gamification accomplish for them? Gamification, the application of game design and mechanics to non-game activities, is enticing businesses with its ability to encourage skill development, to influence behaviors, and to enable innovation.  Let’s take a look at how gamification can achieve positive outcomes in these areas for your business.

1. Employee Skill Development

Add the word “challenge” to any activity, and people, through our competitive and goal-seeking human nature, become intrigued.  The use of game-like elements can transform a corporate training program from something employees have to do, to something they want to do.  Today’s emerging workforce has grown up with video gaming, therefore making it a promising channel for promoting job training.

The two main approaches to gamifying a training program, according to Gartner:

  • Create a game layer to be played after the lesson material is presented, incorporating points systems, levels, and badges to encourage competition.  This approach tests the knowledge the employee has gained from the lesson.
  • Turn the lesson itself into a game that uses not only points, levels, and badges, but also simulation and animation in order to create a virtual environment where trainees can acquire and practice new skills.  The Army, CIA, and FBI all utilize this type of game with great success, as they create simulations designed for new recruits in order to prepare them for actual scenarios they will face on the job.

2. Customer and Employee Behavior Change

Games are appealing to people.  By using a game as a way of interacting with a target audience, a business has a greater chance of influencing their behavior in ways that satisfy their business goals, since people are drawn to and encouraged by games.

Engage Customers:

  • Use gaming elements to get customers to interact with your products, whether online or in a store using geolocation on their mobile device.  Award them points, allow them to virtually customize your products, and let them spend points towards getting new products.  This can increase their loyalty and turn them into advocates for your brand.
  • Use gaming elements to change customer behaviors so they can bring down your costs. Health insurance companies have created games that inspire their customers to get healthy, thus reducing medical bills the company has to cover.  Users track their progress and record key health metrics like blood sugar levels and weight loss.  Based on whether they reach their health goals, they can win rewards.

Engage Employees:

  • Motivate your employees to complete mundane tasks like filling out timesheets, expense reports, and employee feedback forms by turning it into a game.  Create employee profiles, choose avatars, and reward desired behavior.
  • Employ gamified competition across your enterprise, as sales departments have long been doing.  Include results-tracking, leaderboards, and rewards as ways to stimulate productivity.
  • Use social networking elements to immerse your employees in the gamified experience, making it one of shared success and competition.

3. Business Innovation

Businesses can use game mechanics to motivate and inspire their teams to participate in innovation.  Gartner says games designed to enable innovation are set up as a defined space of play, with specific game rules and tools, but which have an end-point that is deliberately unknown.  That is because the company wants to challenge employees to think outside the box in order to solve the problems in the game, promoting critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Accomplish this by:

  • Setting up an open-ended game that allows users to arrive at their own conclusions. By not leading users through a scripted game path and end-point, you allow users to explore new ideas and possibilities that can lead to so many different innovative outcomes.
  • Having lots of players engaged in the game in order to allow more possible ideas and solutions to be uncovered for the business.
  • Ensuring the challenge is well-articulated and directly connected to your business’s goals and objectives. The motivations of the enterprise, the stakeholder, and the teams involved must all be aligned in order for gamification to succeed in stimulating innovation.

Whether it be to revitalize your corporate training program, to engage with customers and employees, or to encourage innovation, gamification can be applied across the enterprise to positively impact your business operations.

For more information and ideas on gamification in the enterprise, attend next week’s gamification event organized by OFS and hosted by the New Jersey Tech Council:

Gamification and the Enterprise: Perfect Together

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Woodbridge, NJ

Look out for future postings from OFS on gamification and how to ensure your gamified apps won’t fail when put into use!

Posted on Fri, Mar 1, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

If you ask someone to describe their favorite game, many people will easily list several – whether they are board games such as Monopoly, console games like Xbox’s Halo, or online games played on a computer or mobile phone, everyone can recall a game they love. Games offer us fun and interactive ways to socialize with friends and family or to spend a few minutes just decompressing after a busy day. But why do we get so much enjoyment out of gaming?

Games actually satisfy human nature’s inherent desires for achievement, recognition, competition, and self-expression. By satisfying these natural needs so effectively, games can even become addictive as we desire more and more of this fulfilling feeling. Unsurprisingly, this love of gaming has led to a huge industry, topping $65 billion dollars worldwide in video gaming alone according to Reuters. The business world is now taking note of this inherent love of gaming and finding ways to utilize it for accomplishing their business goals and objectives.

“Gamification” is the term used for this process of adding gaming elements to a non-traditional game setting in order to engage with customers or employees in a memorable and fun way. Incorporating the following game characteristics into a software system makes for a more interactive experience for the user:

  • Earning points, bonuses, or virtual currency
  • Advancing to different levels of play
  • Achieving goals
  • Engaging in competition through challenges, contests, and trivia
  • Being recognized by leaderboards, badges, and titles

By offering a more interactive portal for their customers or employees, businesses are realizing the positive impacts of improved employee performance and increased customer loyalty.

gamification_track-resized-600Here at OFS, a client recently approached us asking for software that would help with their employee retention. They were experiencing a very high turnover rate with their customer service reps, as the nature of their job is tedious and repetitive. OFS worked with them to devise a new software application that would be easy to use and engaging for their employees in order to alleviate this monotony and incent the staff.

Building on the iPad version we built for them, OFS then conceived a ‘gamified’ version of this application, incorporating point systems, badges, leaderboards, avatars, and methods of self-expression to increase the fun factor and to encourage more active engagement in their job.  The Management of this company realizes the true business value this application could bring to them, resulting in:

  • Employees who are fielding customer calls faster and more accurately
  • A real connection being established between employees and their work
  • Improved employee retention

They are now seeking to include gamification as an effective way to get them to these goals. And they are not the only ones. According to Gartner estimates, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification by 2015 as the primary mechanism to transform their business operations.

With so much buzz around this hot new trend, it is important to explore it now and to evaluate how it could be applied to your business strategy. OFS is organizing an upcoming event through the New Jersey Technology Council:

Gamification and the Enterprise: Perfect Together
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Woodbridge, NJ
 A panel of gamification gurus will discuss how gaming technology is being used to encourage customers and employees to engage in certain desired behaviors and to incent employees to problem solve in their work.  We hope you will be able to join us for this important event!

Look out for future postings from OFS on how to apply gamification principles to your business strategy!