Engaginglab / Gamification

What’s the ROI of a game mechanic? (from the archives; March, 20th, 2012)

Yesterday, I have had a very interesting talk with Toby Beresford (a UK based strategic technology leader with expertise in social media and gamification,www.tobyberesford.com).

Amongst other things we talked about “what would it be worth for a company/a business leader to implement a game mechanic within the organisation, teams or activities?” (For an internal use)

I would love to answer this question using a counterquestion I’ve heard from Gary Vaynerchuck “What’s the ROI of your Mother?”. I love this question because I think that there is a lot of truth in it. There are things you just can’t measure (or it is very, very complicated). And this is true for almost every emotional and subjective activities and values.

But of course this answer wont satisfy any person that is responsible for the investments made within an organisation. So, what is the ROI of a game mechanic?

Honestly? I don’t really know. It depends of the activity you’re using the mechanic for, the people that are engaging with it, the level of intensitiy you are implementing it, the ‘rewarding’ consequences, and so on. Despite the fact that most people are looking at using game mechanics just to collect points, levels and badges and think that this is the purpose of game mechanics I have to say that I wish it would be so easy. Because than, it would be a lot easier to talk about a ROI.

But (fortunately, because this is it where I see the amazing potential of using game-design-thinking) points, badges and levels are just some tools within a large toolbox. I believe that the purpose of gamification is to develop intrinsic motivation or to say it in other words: a strong engagement and commitment.

So, we are talking about something difficult to measure, right? There are already some very interesting approaches, developed by the psychology area, to provide management-tools concerning the state and progress of the motivation of employees.

For example Deci & Ryan wit their self-determination theory. The difficutly will be to combine these approaches with actual management tools. From my point of view one of the ost important problems to solve here: Most management-tools and of course company goals and so also the incentive-models for employees are short-term oriented. Working with tools in the area of motivation, improving skills and an intrinsic engagement is like running a marathon. But most of actual used management-tools are rather for sprints than for marathons.

So, I’m looking forward to early adapters that are implementing game mechanics into their business without thinking at the ROI of it. After some period perhaps we are able to use the ‘approach to human motivation and personality’ by Deci & Ryan to measure something a ‘before and after’ of using Gamification or better ‘motivational-design’.

I know this is not really a ROI in the economic sense but it will be an approach, right?

Let me know what you think about this. Or, do you know about some kind of ROI- measurement for employee satisfaction? Better: employee fulfillment?

Looking forward to your comments, bye, Roman


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