©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.
Fire up the hype machine! “Gamification” is here!
“Gamification” is the latest buzzword being bandied about in the world of online marketing, seemingly appearing out of nowhere in 2010, then quickly attaining Next Big Thing status by the beginning of April 2011 (defying Fast Company’s declaration that it was “played out” back in November). If you haven’t heard about it, you definitely will. Whether you should believe the hype or not is a different (and somewhat complicated) story.
While there are more than a few definitions of “gamification” out there, for the most part it’s the idea of using the mechanics of gaming for non-game applications. While Foursquare has become the archetype of “gamified” services, the idea of grafting “game-like” mechanics has taken hold in everything from social shopping (such as HomeRun) to fitness (Nike+) to blogging platforms that turn commenting into a “game” by rewarding visits, comments, and other activities. Events such as the quickly-sold-out Gamification Summit 2011 and several TED Talks have served to hype the idea to pandemic proportions, so much so that Ford is building the idea into its new Fusion hybrid, which rewards hypermiling drivers by displaying a cute plant gaining or losing leaves based on the efficiency of your driving. Subsequent models are rumored to allow you to compete with your neighbors by sharing your fuel efficiency scores online.