A session of gamification at the IoIC annual conference could mean only one thing – a game of course.
Actually there were several to get the competitive juices flowing as Perry Timms and Tim Hall set about explaining the psychology behind gaming.
And there was bad news for any internal communicators who thought carrying out an annual employee survey was the most important part of their job.
“Employee surveys are the height of laziness,” Perry told delegates. “I’m sick of people saying ‘I do an annual survey with 101 questions, isn’t it great?’
“That’s like saying ‘I’ve got electricity in my office’ – it’s good you have it but there’s so much more you could be doing.”
And Tim had equally blunt news for anyone who thought games would only be useful to change behaviour in bedroom-bound teenage boys.
“There’s no such thing as a typical gamer,” he said. “The latest research shows there are 31 million gamers in the UK every month – 47% are female and the average age is 30 with the highest percentile in the 30 to 36 age group.”
He said gamification was not about sticking a company logo on a game, but using game mechanics to drive the right behaviour.
It could be anything from having a leaderboard on an office wall to arranging for employees to collect points for rewards in the same way as loyalty cards work for consumers.
E-learning was also starting to progress from “click-through to oblivion” to incorporating tasks and variables to make it more interesting and immersive.
The power behind the psychology of gaming was also revealed as Perry cited Skylanders, a computer game that pushes spending in the real world. “You have to buy game characters in the real world to progress up the levels - and it’s making billions of pounds,” he said.
Tim then explained how BMW had to abandon a game aimed at making drivers drive more economically after it became too successful.
“They installed a performance indicator in their cars where you could also see how other drivers were doing and who was top of the table for economic driving.
“They had to abandon it when people started driving in a way that affected others. For instance, if you stop you’re wasting fuel economy and people were getting so into the game they were pushing the boundaries of their driving.
“It can change your moral boundaries – if people will drive illegally to gain an extra point, it proves how powerful it can be.”
That power was also noticeable in the conference room as delegates strove to outdraw each other in a gingerbread sketching game (pictured above) – all for a box of chocolates.
Perry Timms’ recommend pages for more gamification information: