Voter Foursquare BadgeI voted today. As I was leaving, I made sure to check in on my mobile phone using the location based service, foursquare. Why would I want to telegraph my location? Because I’m playing the game of life, that’s why. And I knew I would get a badge. I’m competitive but it doesn’t have to be with other people. I enjoy being the best (at anything) and I’m not the only one. (I also play to get coupons and to become the “mayor” of locations that I frequent.)

What am I talking about?

Gamification or the use of game mechanics and design techniques in non-game contexts. It’s really a psychological manipulation to get people to do things. This can also be referred to as a “call-to-action“.

What makes gamification more effective at behavior modification than a simple call-to-action, is that it usually offers a reward. The reward can come in the form of more playing time, a virtual item such as a badge, points or bragging rights with the use of a leader board. I’ve learned that people will jump through hoops for real (or virtual) gold stars.

Changing Behaviors

There is a great trend in applying these techniques to achieve positive lifestyle changes. Basic tasks in the areas of community participation, exercise, tobacco cessation, and productivity can all be “gamed” to get people to do them. Make it fun, give them a reward, and people will do a lot. Check out this list of products that take advantage of the game scenario possibilities:

Nike+ FuelBand – tracks activity, goal setting
Jawbone Up – tracks activity and sleep
RunKeeper – social workouts
Foodzy – food, beverage, exercise tracking

You can apply this to getting your customers to act in desired ways or observe how you, as a consumer, are effected by gaming.

Just in case you are wondering, I have 48 badges, I’m the mayor of 56 locations, and I’m a Superuser Level 1. Who’s competitive? Not me! (yea, right)

I Voted Sticker

This “I Voted” sticker is cool too!

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