For CIOs, the Games Are Just Beginning

Companies are starting to use the motivational techniques of video games -- such as points, leaderboards and levels -- to create more engaging business applications. It's called "gamification."

Gamification--it's the awkward word that describes the practice of applying game- design thinking to non-game applications so people find them more interesting and engaging.

Today, companies are starting to use common video-game techniques such as points, badges and leader boards to make their websites more interactive and to reward people for their contributions. But this is only the start of the inevitable merging of games and business.

With all the serious stuff going on in the world today, why are people talking about games at work and why are they doing it now? The answer comes down to two things: technology and demographics.

The widespread use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and the rapidly expanding use of smartphones and tablets have created new ways to reach and interact with customers.

Meanwhile, the number of people who play video games is growing quickly--even among folks who are in their 40s and beyond--and playing games has become more social (think of FarmVille on Facebook). Conditions are ripe for extending game techniques beyond their traditional boundaries and employing them in other online activities.

Brand-name companies are experimenting with gamification as you read this. Samsung created Samsung Nation--the electronics industry's "first gamified corporate website"--where loyal customers engage and compete for badges, points and other rewards as they watch videos, comment on articles or review products.

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