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As my first post in 2018 and to get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d join in and jump on the bandwagon with my colleagues in the Gamification field and write a “What’s coming in 2018 for Gamification” post.
Though this will be mostly my personal impressions that are backed by what other leaders in the field have said and what the various industry research reports and institutions have released. My personal impressions are based on what I’ve seen and written about in my blogs in 2017, and then a few bits of inspiration taken from Gamification Nation, Gamified UK, Forbes, Gallup, Gartner, etc…
The general sentiment from each of these is that there will both be an increase and a decline. A paradox I know, but it generally refers to a maturing of the market and a culling of it. The competition will increase and as a result, the cream will rise to the top.
As various leaders in the field have mentioned so far this year, 2018 will hopefully be a year where we see the Gamification sector mature and a year where the hype surrounding gamification will slowly fizzle out.
I believe this to be true, but it is not something that is wholly set to happen in 2018. It has been happening for a while and will continue beyond 2018, at least I hope it does. What both these sentiments mean is that gamification specialists, at least those of worth, are embracing and developing stronger research methodologies and moving more towards a sharing of knowledge for the betterment of all, both those creating and those engaging in gamification.
As we mature together, the process of gamification becomes less a trendy flash in the pan and more of a solid development process that businesses, educational institutions and so forth turn to improve meaning and engagement in their audience base. As with anything a stronger scientific basis for both qualitative and quantitative research will strengthen implementation and feedback. Giving greater credence to our efforts in improving people’s lives with our craft. And that is definitely something we should all work towards in 2018.
This always an ever-recurring theme whenever you type gamification into Google. But in 2018 it is suspected that companies will move even more towards focusing not only on their clients and customer base, but also put emphasis on focusing on their employee base. With that said, there are also reports that essentially say the reverse, that companies will move away from employee focus and finally focus on their customers and clients. I suppose it’s down to which business samples were used to generate these statistics. Regardless of which point of view, it is essential that your employees have a positive outlook on their employment, this helps with a positive engagement with your customers and clients.
What HR will no longer be doing is to purely focus on learning solutions, i.e. providing employees with ways to only improve certain skills. Rather HR departments both internally and externally will start to focus and increase investment in the general well-being of employees. Ensuring that workplace engagement and enjoyment is improved, and doing this by implementing better feedback processes, performance management indicators and other aspects that work so well with a gamification solution. And these will not only be current employees but also for the onboarding of new ones and for attracting yet to appear candidates.
2018 will, in my humble opinion, be a golden year for Gamification in marketing. It will see rise and rush for implementing customized marketing processes that are based on solid engagement mechanics with strong gamification methodologies driving them.
As with anything to do with marketing, the main focus will be on increasing customer engagement and loyalty to the brand. The initial brand awareness is now solidly established with social media, but it is customer retention that is now the prime goal to achieve. And this is especially true of small and up-and-coming businesses. The ones that need to fight the hardest to etch out a little patch on the playing field. These are the ones that we need to keep an eye out for, as they will drive new and innovative gamification ideas in the marketing sector.
For anyone that travels regularly, it will come as no surprise that non-Western parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa, will start to lead the way in gamification in 2018, and specifically through the use of mobile applications.
These areas of the world have large populations who are modern enough to own a mobile device but do not have stable cable internet. For them, their main interaction with the web is through a 4G or soon 5G network connection. Therefore, companies who wish to engage these huge populations are moving towards implementing more game mechanics and gamification into their applications.
But don’t make the mistake if thinking this isn’t true for Europe, or America’s. Across the world engaging apps that target the ever-present, but surely now also maturing, the Millennial population is of great importance. I think I still fall into the Millennial category and the argument that mobile apps are becoming more gamified is because Millennials enjoy a more social element in their lives is I feel short-sighted. Regardless of where we are in the world and what age we are, I would argue the point that having better more meaningful social experiences, and communal work and leisure places is a ubiquitous goal. And if gamification in mobile technology can offer this, then that’s even better.
Something that’s closely connected to social media and mobile is the onward march of artificial intelligence. As an ever-continuing trend, 2018 will see a greater interest in AI and machine learning within the gamification field.
Using mobile technology and social media interactions, AI and machine learning capabilities will slowly increase in usage on tracking user statistics and analyzing them for a greater tailored experience for the users. Naturally to implement these tools in these early will be somewhat costly still, but the return on investment will be the increase of retention and engagement.
The sector with the biggest push for experimentation with tailoring algorithms and self-learning systems with be within professional education. LMS’s, CRM’s and mobile learning will be testing out AI more and more as 2018 progresses.
In my humble opinion, 2018 will be the year for AR. I could be wrong though, as every Friday is also the day I will win the lottery, that also has yet to happen. But at least the expectation for AR has been based on a slightly more solid rationale than simply blind luck.
The use and scope of AR technology will be the main driving force behind it’s spread. As AR is still a better technology for improving engagement that the other reality-altering devices. VR is becoming cheaper to buy, more accessible and more compact, but it is a fully immersive experience into a different reality. It removes you from this world, not that I’m advocating against VR, I personally am entranced by what it offers. But I feel that VR is more relevant for creating experiences for individuals, whereas AR is more for communal experiences.
As always whatever the trend or technology, what we’re all driving towards with gamification is a meaningful and communal experience that engages us. 2017 was a disruptive year, for the world and for myself personally. I believe we’ve all come out of it a little wiser, and probably also a little wearier. 2018 will expand on this, but hopefully rather than beating on us, it will strengthen us. A disruptive period is a period of change and one that is filled with opportunity. Within Gamification, nations in Asia, like China, Korea, Japan, who all have strong gaming cultures, will most likely start to lead the charge. As they appear to be more open to engaging game-like experiences. I myself live in Europe, the Netherlands, and rather than watching, I feel that we should step up and join in this charge. It will require a culture-shift to that of finally embracing what games and play have to offer us. To move away from that antiquated idea that games or anything to do with games lowers productivity and only makes things easy and/or dumbs them down. As starting sentiment that Gamification is maturing, hopefully so too are we. That making something meaningful and engaging is a worthwhile pursuit. A pursuit that I hope I’m able to continue to join and see many of you on.
I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.
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