When asked to describe gamers, many people conjure up stereotypical images typically associated with the term: lonely teenage boys who spend all of their time in front of the screen or anti-social students who only feel comfortable interacting with others through games.
But these images are not accurate representations of the average gamer. Female gamers over the age of 18 represent nearly 33 percent of the 155 million gamers in America, while male gamers younger than 18 only make up about 15 percent. These statistics show that the media’s manifestation of the stereotypical gamer is skewed.
Gamers are no longer confined to the images popular culture chooses to display, and many businesses have begun integrating game elements into their business models to keep up with the interests of their consumers. In its simplest form, gamification refers to the application of game dynamics to non-gaming environments. Gamification successfully caters to certain innate desires of competition, progression and accomplishment. Many businesses are taking advantage of these gaming trends, incorporating gamification to improve their products and services. With newly integrated game elements, consumers are immersed in a game-like environment that deviates from the potentially mundane tasks being performed.
Businesses value gamified elements, as they allow consumers to connect with products and services on a deeper level. Utilizing gamification enables companies to engage their audience by highlighting monetary, social or cultural values. Here we showcase three businesses with apps that gamify daily tasks of managing energy costs, learning a new language and ordering delivery.
Business Model: A platform used to help lower utility bills through competition
What It Does: Opower delivers personalized home energy reports that show users how energy consumption and costs compare to that of their neighbors. Colorful bar graphs and pie charts illustrate personal energy usage, efficiency goals and the neighborhood average of energy use and costs, with the latter being most powerful for encouraging residents to lower usage. Smiley faces highlight good standing among neighbors, creating a fun “who-can-save-the-most” game out of utility bills.
Why It Works: Regardless of what people might say, everyone is a little competitive. A human’s natural instinct to win dates all the way back to surviving during our primal days. Competition is closely related to social influence, since people react to what is going on around them. Studies have shown that moral persuasion and financial incentives are less powerful motivators than social pressure.
Opower took the findings from this study and incorporated it into their product, pitting utility bills against each other and directing consumers’ attention to how their neighbors are using energy. With nothing more than friendly competition at the forefront of their minds, consumers using Opower have saved over $700 million in utilities. Peer pressure can be good when harnessed for the right reason.
What It Does: Duolingo is a language-learning app and crowdsourced text translation platform that breaks down major lessons into skills and presents them as different levels of a game. If you answer a question incorrectly, Duolingo immediately shows you how to improve. If you answer a question correctly, applause ensues. The Duolingo mascot, Duo the Owl, constantly encourages users with positive reinforcement every step of the way. Duolingo’s 100 million users have access to over 40 language courses across their iOS, Android and Windows devices, or through any device with an internet connection.
Why It Works: People are motivated by progress. Yet that very reason is why so many give up learning new skills or completing tasks that take time: a lack of visual progress. Modern consumers are accustomed to instant gratification, making it extremely difficult to keep their attention for an extended period of time. Duolingo appeases this need for instant gratification by immediately presenting results to the user.
With every lesson finished, a streak count records the number of consistent days spent learning the new language, motivating users to stay on track. For every correct answer, users are virtually rewarded with a gold coin. However, users can also lose a heart for every incorrect answer. Progress bars and charts illustrating consistency help users visualize their hard work and progress, which is key in ensuring that users know how far they have come.
What It Does: Players are challenged to create the “perfect” pizza. Users are invited to knead the dough, spread the sauce, place the toppings and bake the pizza — all while earning points for completing tasks well. And the best part of the app? You can order the pizza you just virtually made. Domino’s Pizza knew that they wanted to make ordering pizza memorable. With that in mind, they launched Pizza Hero to capture consumer attention by taking them through the entire pizza-making process.
Why It Works: Domino’s has completely transformed the way people call for takeout. Users can either order a pizza the conventional way, or use Pizza Hero. What sets this application apart from other delivery apps is how users are involved with the creation of their food. Players achieve goals and feel accomplished when completing orders through a series of challenges.
In addition, if players succeed in rising through the ranks to become a Pizza Hero, Domino’s Pizza might even reach out and offer the opportunity to work at their local Domino’s. Well over 800 players have made the leap from Pizza Hero to Domino’s employee.
Studies using brain scanning have shown increased releases of dopamine in users who played video games, as opposed to those who did not play. Increased levels of dopamine correlate directly with feelings of enjoyment and pleasure, and companies are choosing to adopt gaming elements into their business models so that users associate their products and services with said feelings of pleasure. With the integration of gaming elements, companies have turned monotonous tasks into games. Gamification is a versatile strategy that can benefit a company’s business model immensely.
For more information, check out our blog for more articles detailing the benefits, must-have features and recommended software companies of gamification.
[Photo courtesy of Tiffany Peters]