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Gamification: A Catch all Motivator?
By Vijay Dandapani
Wednesday, 9th January 2013

The newest buzz word doing the rounds of both academia and management, gamification, not only sounds ungainly but seems also to have a quasi-unreal ring to it.

That it is not merely in the argot of practitioners and academics is evident from its rapid fire adoptation and wide acknowledgement in the media with numerous examples that are real and tangible.

The idea and manifestation of gamification may have been around for well over a decade but the past couple of years have shown it to be a potent tool to engage both consumers and employees with it gaining currency as the average age of "gamers" moves north each year. Today, grown adults well into their 30s are gamers both at home and work. The Financial Times notes that, using the design and mechanics of popular games, its votaries now use it to "drive customers and employee behavior".

In the service industry, social network site, Foursquare was a pioneer in the gamification with its ability to give patrons of its app awards in the form of virtual "badges" for checking into (usually) trendy) bars and restaurants,serving to accentuate the desirability of both the establishment and also for Foursquare users to "look cool" among peers.

In another facet of gamification in the service industry, the New York Times reports that "restaurants are using a service from a Boston start-up company called Objective Logistics to rank the performances of waiters on a leader board, rewarding the good ones with plum shifts and more lucrative tables. The company plans to add “karma points” that waiters can earn for picking up shifts from colleagues or otherwise being good teammates."

The Wall Street Journal notes that gamification spurs motivation in both employees and customers and enhances loyalty programs. The Journal points out that "Neuroscience research has shown that the human brain responds strongly to game elements, such as competition, gaining status, goal achievement and play. People like to acquire possessions, develop new skills and connect in a meaningful way with both people and programs. By applying game mechanics to motivation and loyalty programs, the point-earning experience for participants can be just as engaging as the points-redemption process."

Gamification in the work place may not yet be witnessing vertiginous growth but companies and organizations looking to compete for employees and customers are increasingly turning to it. Testimony to its wider acceptance is borne out by the first ever "summit" for gamifcation in San Francisco in April 2013.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city. Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.

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