Feature Article - January/February 2013

Game On!

Gamification Programs Help Foster Employee Engagement

By Deborah L. Vence


Considered to be one of the most important trends in business today, gamification has become an incentive industry go-to application for driving employee engagement—first crossing over into the industry around 2010 and now fast becoming a must-have for incentive programs.

"Gamification has been called one of the most important trends in business by several industry experts—just as important as social or mobile," said Brad Callahan, vice president of business solutions for Marketing Innovators International Inc. in Rosemont, Ill. "While game mechanics have always been present at home and in business, recent applications have amplified their importance as a low-cost tool for driving engagement across the enterprise."

Even before 2010, though, the story of "gamification" already was popping up in generalized discussion and being touted by various organizations and companies, noted David Reisner, director of strategic design & integration with ITAgroup in West Des Moines, Iowa. Since then, gamification has been integrated into incentive programs more and more, aiming to encourage employee engagement.

Defining Gamification

What Is It?

GAMIFICATION is the use of game design and game mechanics to engage a target audience to change behaviors, learn new skills or engage in innovation.

Who Is It For?

The target audience can be customer, employees or the general public—anyone with needs and desires who will respond to stimuli.

--Source, Gartner Inc.

In fact, M2 Research has forecast the market to climb to $2.8 billion by 2016, while in 2013, enterprise gamification is expected to exceed consumer gamification revenue. Meanwhile, a 2011 Gartner Research Report indicated that by 2015 more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes. Seventy percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application by 2014.

"Gamification has quickly become one of the most talked-about movements in Silicon Valley, with Google trends showing explosive growth continuing to accelerate: from 500 search results prior to 2010 to over 9.5 million searches today," Callahan said.

In light of this booming trend, Premium Incentive Products magazine discussed gamification with industry experts—what it is, how it's being implemented in the incentive world, as well as what the future holds for game applications in the industry.