16.8 Stakeholder engagement by gamification.

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    Gamification is serious stuff. The Society 3.0 citizen has been playing computer games from childhood, from the Atari 2600 video game console (Atari, as a corporation, invented and published one of the first computer video games, Pong), to the Wii or X-box, or was introduced to serious gaming by throwing dice in your local pub for a drink. Or, by betting on football matches. The Romans had their “Panem et Circensus” to engage the people and keep them occupied and happy.

    Playing games has many benefits for our development and well-being:
    1.Learning capability: Gaming is done voluntarily. Games have mechanics to reward players, which causes a dopamine (neuron-transmitter) to create a sense of euphoria. In the long term, this strengthens our cognitive skills.
    2. Self esteem: Mistakes are common while playing a game. There is no severe penalty, and the player tries again. By doing so, the players become aware of learning effect of making mistakes.
    3. Collaboration: Multiplayer games, where players form teams and play together, teaches players to collaborate.
    4. Creativity: Sandbox games (games with much non designated-content and where the player can built anything freely) stimulate creativity.
    5. Fun: Gaming is fun and that is often not the case in organizations where people do their regular job. Having fun at the things you do generates energy.

    Meet Horst. Horst is a gamifier, and, as a knowmad, connected to Seats2meet.com. Yes, a gamifier. A new profession, like other new professions and fields of expertise, with exciting titles like trust agent, data pilot, and cloud service broker. As gamifier, Horst is busy with gamification: the integration of game mechanics or game dynamics into a website, service, community, campaign, or application in order to drive participation and engagement.

    But Horst’s own straightforward definition that can be interpreted broadly and is easy to understand:

    “Gamification is to make things fun by adding game elements.”

    The main goal of gamification is stakeholder engagement. As we have seen before, you have to engage stakeholders in your Mesh to get them to start co-creating sustainable value with you and/or your organization.

    Working with Horst, I learned a couple things. One is that the motivations and desires that exist in all of us for community, feedback, achievement, and reward are attained by using gaming techniques. So, when interacting with a group of people, whether it is a network or a more formal organization, gamification can improve learning, drive more sales, create a better collaboration, or obtain a deeper loyalty.

    Secondly, using the event driven communication structure around the primary transaction processes utilizing the stakeholder’s contact points, engagement can be done with little effort. So, even sending a thank you letter, combined with a new call to action, signed by the company’s president after receiving an order, is already gamification.

    People are motivated when playing to gain a higher status or by having access to stuff others don’t have, and even by having more power than others and by getting something for free. A gamification strategy, therefore, is a meticulous planning process of challenges and achievements. A challenge is a known path the users move along consciously. So, he or she moves from one level to the next. An achievement is tracked in the background, and once reached, the reward may come as a surprise.

    Software development is done in a different way than in the old days. In the past, software projects were huge, time consuming, and almost unpredictable in progress and cost. Today, you will see what are called “agile development” approaches. A project is cut into small pieces, and every piece has a head, a tail, and is built rapidly. Also, instead of building the whole software product, a prototype is launched (quick and dirty) just to test the water. If it appeals to a community, the product is built to completion, with the help of the same community.

    Our gamifier, Horst, calls it the Plus 4 method. This method contains four phases that lead to a complete gamification project. Every phase is a plus for the entity; hence the “P” in Plus 4.

    By now, we’re seeing pre-packaged gamification software enter the market, so gamification has become an integrated part of any organization’s structural development. At Seats2meet.com we operate a residents program where all the above mentioned gaming techniques are used to engage our stakeholders by making them better professionals.

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