| Peter Zchunke |
Frankfurt (dpa) – Is the difference really so great between the time you spend as a warrior conquering realms in World of Warcraft and the time you spend at the office trying to do better than industry competitors?
Some companies, like German software developer SAP, are discovering that gaming experience has its place in the business world.
It’s part of a trend, as companies realise that the skills some of their workers have picked up as gamers have some real-world applications.
The industry term is gamification, developing game-like tools that motivate employees or get them more involved in the company’s goals.
Many games motivate players with points, badges and other rewards for meeting specific goals.
It’s not such a big stretch to use similar motivations to get people to do more at work.
Experts call this concept “intrinsic motivation”.
When it’s used properly, employees are no longer working just for their pay check, but because the work has become a goal in and of itself.
“To make this work, the user has to feel really good about it,” says Steffen Walz, who ran a conference, Bizplay, this year. “They’re like Vikings discovering new continents.”
“We’re experience a strong push in gamification,” says SAP executive Michael Ameling.
“Businesses in the broadest range of branches are checking to see how they can introduce it,” he added.
SAP is developing gaming-style motivations both for in-house use and for sale to customers.
Since the introduction of the SAP Community Network (SCN), the social net-work of the company for employees and customers, activity has risen by a factor of five since the introduction of the point system, says Ameling.
The most productive members get mentions in the leader-board.
Gamification is also used in training, with multiplayer games like SCM Globe to simulate delivery chains.
Other training systems let players compare how they’re doing versus others.
There’s been so much demand that SAP has begun investigating the creation of a gamification platform for business needs.
“We get a lot of requests from customers who have already optimised their processes and think they could accomplish more with gamification,” says Ameling.
One example is Call Center, where players get virtual rewards for handling customer requests properly.
Different cultures are used to different rewards, so gamification needs to provide a reward that the player holds in high esteem.
“In India, many people would be proud to be given a T-shirt with a high-score badge printed on it,” he said.
But this would not satisfy Germans, whose interest in a purely point-based would tend to sag quickly.
Instead, they might be better motivated by the prospect of meeting a corporate head.
Privacy can be an issue, though that is often solved with anonymisation.
“Gamification can only be used for positive feedback, never for punishment,” warns Ameling.
Walz’s job is to try to figure out what hap-pens when the gaming world meets the real world.
“What happens when these computer gaming elements suddenly collide with the real world?” he asks.
“It can’t just be about holding a carrot up in front of the employee and hope to condition him for desired behaviour,” he added.
It’s more important to give users a positive experience.
One example is the smartphone app Zombies, Run which tries to interest people in jogging by giving them virtual zombies from which to flee.
Thanks to the interactive gameplay, “the jogger becomes the main character”, says Ameling.
Others point out that gamification can’t be treated as a wonder cure for modern workplace problems.
It’s not a question of just using gamification, but rather of “how we use gamification to develop new systems that emulate the positives of gaming worlds”, says Marigo Raftopoulos.
She founded GEElab, an Australian company that designs gamification systems.