Gartner places "gamification" on their hype cycle about ready to crest the initial rise of expectation before deep descent into the "trough of disillusionment." That doesn't mean there is no "there, there." It simply means that Gartner sees the concept and companies labeled "gamification" garnering some unwarranted and inflated interest.
The concepts of gamification are just a smart application of those action-inducing mechanics that fall under the term 'behavioral economics'
Behavioral economics - "A theory stating that there are important psychological and behavioral variables involved in the economic decisions of consumers or countries.(I found the business dictionary definition more down-to-earth than Wikipedia)
Gamification - "Integrating game dynamics into your site, service, content, community or campaign in order to drive participation"
Models for driving participation and word of mouth
Our job is to drive advocacy and action toward a business result. Whether it is for car manufacturers, tourism, FMCG products or main-frame computer companies. The 'art and science' of what we do combines three rubrics that make our work predictive and plannable. These include the Influencer Network Model, the 6 Drivers of Influence from Robert Cialdini and the 7 Drivers of Word of Mouth. Gamification is a fourth and very effective model to drive people to action and advocacy.
The key features of 'best-practice' gamification includes (these are from Gabe Zicherman who is pretty smart in thsi space):
- Self Expression
Three examples of Gamification
The Insider Circle Leaderboard - We developed a brand advocacy platform called Insider Circle that manages a scalable community of fans and builds a productive relationship between brand and fan. Irfan Kamal who designed the platform argued for a "gamified' premise form the start. Today it features a full leaderboard that allows community members to rack up points for actions taken and gauge how they are doing against other community members. This simple feature drives a competitive streak that motivates action.
VW Roullette - VW needed to impress upon car buyers that a particular vehicle is fuel efficient. To make the message memorable and drive people to authentically want to explore the features of the car that contribute to that fuel efficiency, they create a 'gamified' experience that drew people in to follow a long driving challenge via a data-enhanced Google Map. people could essentially bet when the vehicle would run out of its single tank of gas. The best part of this model is that people who wanted the best chance of guessing well explored the features of the car that might contribute to fuel efficiency. Clearly they came away with knowledge of how many features were designed to improve fuel efficiency.
HealthMonth - One of the founders of HealthMonth started 43Things, one of my favorite sites to admire (but not really use). HealthMonth allows us each to set goals for ourselves in multiple categories from dieting to mental health. these selections get distilled into "life points" which you track, of course. You are also directed to groups of people who are also striving to reduce the amount of fried food they eat every week or increase meditation. The group support each other via Twitter. Another great example of behavioral economics and game mechanics at work.