The Business of Fun: How Gamification Will Change Your Organization

Gabe Zichermann gave the Tuesday keynote talk at the NYC Social Media Week about The Business of Fun: How Gamification Will Change Your Organization. This was a brilliant presentation which explained how gaming improves fluid intelligence (gF) or the ability to problem solve situations that one’s never been in before. This differs from crystallized intelligence which is the ability to problem solve familiar situations based on previously gained knowledge, e.g. how to solve a math problem.

Zicherman explained that gamification engages users because it feeds into our natural addiction to the challenge-achievement loop. Gaming sets up a system of constraint, or sets parameters on creativity and sets up challenges that can be achieved, resulting in the sought-after dopamine reward that gamers experience hundreds of times an hour playing games.

Examples of organizations effectively using gaming to engage their users:

CNN iReport – Citizen journalists reporting news and providing content for the CNN site. Journalists compete to earn badges and have their photos on the front page.

Stack Overflow - Thousands of developers offering code and solutions to technical problems in a community with a reputation system and virtual currency.

Speed Camera Lottery – The Swedish National Society for Road Safety have implemented a game to encourage drivers to stay within the speed limit. While drivers who speed are sent tickets, those who obey the limit are pooled into a lottery to win the fines. The first 3 days of testing saw a 22% reduction in speed.

Code Academy – This website presents an opportunity to teach everyone how to code through taking and developing courses. Badges and other rewards are offered.

Kickstarter is democratizing the funding process for creative projects. It allows anyone to pitch a project that they want funded. Double Fine studio pitched a game that they wanted to develop and set a goal of $400,000. They raised $1 million in 24 hours.

Here’s his presentation: