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American Business Embraces 'Gamification' 109

Hugh Pickens writes "JP Mangalindan writes that for years psychologists have studied what makes video games so engrossing — why do players spend hours accruing virtual points working towards intangible rewards and what characteristics make some games more addictive than others? Now, companies are realizing that 'gamification' — using the same mechanics that hook gamers — is an effective way to generate business. For example, when Nike released Nike + in 2008, it 'gamified' exercise. 'Place the pedometer in a pair of (Nike) sneaks and it monitors distance, pace and calories burned, transmitting that data to the user's iPod. The Nike software loaded on the iPod will then "reward" users if they reach a milestone,' writes Mangalindan. 'If a runner beats his 5-mile distance record, an audio clip from Tour de France cycling champ Lance Armstrong congratulates him.' In addition, users can upload their information, discuss achievements online with other users, and challenge them to distance or speed competitions. The result: to date, Nike has moved well over 1.3 million Nike + units."
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American Business Embraces 'Gamification'

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  • Re:Achievements... (Score:5, Informative)

    by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Monday September 06, 2010 @11:07PM (#33494408) Journal

    Am I only the one who doesn't need a pat on the back every 5 minutes in order to enjoy something or derive satisfaction from it?

    "Congratulations! You survived a bird looking at you! Achievement unlocked, 10 points!"

    If you truly feel this way, there's probably something wrong with you. If you just don't feel this way about, say, Farmville, but do feel it about other things (and probably don't realize that you do) then you're merely normal and not paying attention.

    "Gamification" is a fuzzy description of operant conditioning []. Anything with a bit of intelligence (dogs, parrots, maybe even sheep, and certainly humans) are wired to get a little jolt of pleasure after successfully negotiating a crisis situation. It's how we learn. What games do is short-circuit this by providing lots and lots of crisis situations, and providing the player with ways to get through them and win, and get that little burst of success-feeling. Some people are seriously susceptible to this kind of shenanigans and spend all their time enjoying their imagined success at Farmville. Others do the same thing climbing the corporate ladder and running companies. In that case, of course, it's not imagined success, it's the intended result of how we're wired, operating in a complex social environment. In any case, it's an essential system for learning in humans, and while it sucks that people are getting really good at twisting it to manipulate other people, it's still vitally important and ubiquitous.

  • by schnell ( 163007 ) <me@sch n e l l . net> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:55AM (#33495044) Homepage

    I know the comment was intended to be funny, but I figured I'd respond anyway as a gamer - and Nike+ user - who can hopefully help others understand the value proposition.

    I was a runner in high school who picked it up again about five years ago as a way to stay fit. I got the Nike+ iPod kit two years ago, and it made a significant difference in my enjoyment of running. It provided essential, purely functional benefits (ability to track my running distance, and play my preferred music or podcasts as I ran). It added useful but secondary "online" elements by having the runs uploaded to the Nike website such as recording my runs and giving me an easy way to statistically analyze them (how often, how far, how fast). And it added tertiary but very fun "game" elements such as the ability to set goals for myself (distance, frequency etc.) and work against them. It wasn't really like a RPG game, it was more a way of making it easy for me to compete against myself. Later, they added some social features to it - like the ability to see your friends' runs, and post your runs automatically to Facebook. Those things were "icing on the cake" rather than a key element.

    Bottom line - I already had an iPod and used iTunes. The fact that Nike made it easy to track distance while using my iPod made the sale on their shoes. The "game" elements just made it more fun and make me more satisfied with the purchase.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright