The power and pitfalls of gamification

This story is Adapted from How to change: the science from where you are to where you want to be By Katy Milkman.

When you walk After completing 10,000 steps in a day, Fitbit will reward you with a flick and some virtual fireworks, which gives you a reason to pause and smile. When you practice foreign languages ​​on Duolingo for several days in a row, you will get a “streak of victories” and will be encouraged to maintain this state, which gives you more reasons to work hard and repeat your studies. When companies, teachers, coaches or apps add features such as symbolic rewards, competitions, social relationships or even just funny sounds and colors to make something look more like a game, they rely on “gamification” To enhance it might otherwise be tedious. I bet that most applications on your phone use certain elements of gamification, but we also see gamification in workplaces and health insurance companies.

Gamification first started more than ten years ago. At the time, there was not much evidence of its value. This concept seems to make a lot of sense. The business consultant promised to the organization that gamified work can motivate employees more effectively, not by changing the work itself, but by changing its packaging to make the goal more exciting (“Yes! I won a star!” ).For example, technology companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, and SAP have found ways to gamify everything in learning Social media skills, to Verify language translationTo improve Sales Performance.

Today, thanks to the development of science, we seem to have a better understanding of when gamification really works and its boundaries.In addition to the gamified apps and software we use to learn new skills, the company also likes Amazon with Uber It is now deployed to increase worker productivity. But to get the results we seek in our lives and workplaces, it is important to understand when gamification will work-and when it will only make things worse.

In 2012, Jana Galus is an outstanding young economist who is studying for a PhD at the University of Zurich. She understands the problems that plague Wikipedia-and finds opportunities for early gamification value testing. Although there are 50 million online encyclopedias available in more than 280 languages, they are very popular, but Gallus found that its best-performing editors flocked to them. Ever since the so-called Wikipedians kept the articles of all content on the site, game of Thrones In order for quantum mechanics to be accurate and have not been paid a dime so far, the organization needs to find a way to enable its top editors to engage in the sometimes monotonous task of curating online content without paying them.

In order to reduce turnover, Wikipedia asked Gallus to experiment Added 4,000 volunteer editors. According to the coin flip, she told some respectable newcomers to Wikipedia that their efforts won praise and their names were listed as winners on the Wikipedia website. They also received one, two or three stars, which appeared next to their usernames and assigned more stars to those who performed better. Other newcomers who contributed equally valuable content to Wikipedia but appeared on the other end of the coin flip did not receive any token rewards (and were not informed of such rewards). Gallus believes that awards will make monotonous tasks more like games by adding fun and praise to well-done work.

She is right. Volunteers who are recognized as a result of their efforts are 20% more likely to voluntarily participate in Wikipedia next month, and 13% more likely than people who have not received praise a year later to actively participate in Wikipedia.

Examples like this might make gamification a breeze: Why doesn’t the company want to make work more interesting? Despite the exciting results of Gerlos, recent research shows that as a top-down behavior change strategy, gamification can easily backfire. My two colleagues at the Wharton School-Ethan Mollick and Nancy Rothbard- experiment Prove this. It involves hundreds of salespeople who engage in the job of reaching out to companies and persuading them to offer coupons for discounted products or services that are somewhat boring, and then sell them on the company’s website (think Groupon). The salesperson earns a commission for each coupon that is ultimately sold online.

To make this even more exciting, Mollick and Rothbard collaborated with professional game designers to create a basketball-themed sales game. Salespersons can earn points by closing transactions with customers, and larger transactions will earn more points. Sales from hot sales are called “go to work”, while sales from cold sales are called “jump shots.” The giant screen at the sales office shows the name of the best performer and occasionally shows basketball animations, such as a successful slam dunk. Regular e-mails will update the winner’s “player” information, and when the game is over, the winner will get a bottle of champagne.

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