Curtis Gross is the Senior Technology Marketing Manager at Jive Software. In this piece, Curtis explains the what, why, and how of implementing Gamification in your organization.




Football, Basketball, Soccer/Futbol, Mario Brothers, Dark Souls*, Call of Duty**,  WoW***.


All are games, all are arguably as difficult and require as much 'work' as actual work.  So, why do people flock to games?  Why will someone spend 40 hours at work, then go home to spend more time playing games?  And why are people motivated to train for a marathon in their off time that costs them money to enter?


Games have a certain mix of challenge, reward and mental satisfaction that drives people. How can we harness the best parts of games and apply it elsewhere?


What is Gamification?gamification.jpg

Gamification is the application of game logic, theory and design to improve work processes and incent behavior.  It is the understanding of why people enjoy and play competitive games like golf, soccer, basketball and video games, all of which are arguably more difficult that working in a spreadsheet all day.  People choose to play difficult games because of the challenge. Gamification is not the application of badges, cartoons and leader boards to make your job more like Farmville or Angry Birds.  Gamification is looking at those games and finding what draws people to play them, to return to them day after day, to understand the satisfaction that comes from playing a game.


53% of American Adults older than 18 play video games, BUT be aware that 97% of teens play video games according to the Pew / Internet study.  It is worth noting that these are just the numbers for VIDEO games. What about other traditional games (e.g., board games)?  Bet it is 100%!  It is time to start thinking about how to change the way we work, dramatically.


What are some common game elements?

Not every game includes all the different ways to get people engaged. If you understand that different people react better / worse to different game logic, you can mix and match the elements to create an environment that engages a larger audience.  Some examples of game elements:

  • Social Connections
  • Missions
  • Competitions
  • Rewards (badges, goods)
  • Reputation (status, levels)
  • Leaderboards
  • Visibility into Success
  • Challenges


In my opinion there is one hard requirement to make any gamified workplace strategy a success: Social Connections.  People like to show others their success, compete with other people, see how others have accomplished similar goals - and want to learn from other successful people.  The most successful games that managed to break outside of just 'hardcore gamers' are connected in at least one way to other people.  Words With Friends, Farmville and Draw Something all leveraged social connections with friends to expand into casual gaming territory.


With social being the glue that holds Gamifiication together it is a good thing Jive provides a social platform!


How can Gamification be applied to work and social communities?


  • Increased Adoption - Imagine if you could see every positive action your coworkers are taking to earn rewards.  People would start to follow and adopt the practices of those that are the most successful.  This is possible in the software world through tracking activity, its quality, and making it visible to everyone. This allows people to learn from success and encourages people to keep coming back for more.
  • Training - Let's say that you are using a brand new set of software, one that only starts with a limited set of functionality.  As you learn and use that functionality correctly new functionality is unlocked.  Games use the idea of 'unlocking' to slowly release more advanced concepts the longer you play. Through leveraging this idea, users will no longer be overwhelmed with the full platform from day one. This also means no manual or training webcast is necessary for your users.  You can promote when users have completed training to their friends, which increases the chance that those friends will complete the training in order to 'keep up'.
  • Fostering User Connections -  First day at work?  What if you're given access to a Jive instance with a list of people with the same hobbies, experiences, and likes as you.  Wouldn't it be nice to be in the company of friends with the same objectives?  Game logic says everyone needs better visibility into what others like and promotes people to form teams of similar users to incent them to stay engaged.
  • Sustaining Community Engagement - A user completes a difficult task, what is next on the list?  If the task is the same level of difficulty, the user will most likely not stay motivated to participate.  If it a similar task - but a little bit more difficult, it becomes a new challenge.  Constantly upping the difficulty means your employees will never be bored.  It is essential to create new and exciting challenges or missions for your users to keep their interest.


Make work more fun and engaging, but don't make work a game.

Gamification of work means that those repetitive tasks you do every day may actually pay off with some sort of accomplishment, a finale, reputation and rewards.  Every task needs a goal and gamification can help.  Employees can have clear goals, be challenged and rewarded for their work.  My challenge to you: make work more fun with Jive!

* Hardest, most rewarding video game I have played in the last 10 years.

** Battlefield series is better

*** Never played - worried I would get addicted.

How have you used Gamification to incent participation at work?