Can Gamification Increase Your App’s Engagement?
With everyone looking for new and better ways of ramping up app engagement, is seems high time to us here at Lounge Lizard to answer the important question of can gamification increase your app’s engagement.
The idea behind “gamification” is the application of those elements people commonly use with games into other areas of activity. That means taking things such as point scoring, the idea of competition with other people and even general rules of play and applying them to things such as online marketing or app development of non-gaming apps.
Why use Gamification?
The concept of gamification as most people know it was originated in 2003 when Nick Pelling first coined the phrase. Although the concept has been used in practice since before that time, it has really seen more use in the past 5 years as the internet has become more of a juggernaut that touches on so many aspects of our lives.
So how does the use of game mechanics and game design techniques engage people? It is quite simple really; it plays off the inherit needs of status and achievement that many cultures psychologically promote.
People are programmed from an early age that status and achievements are both important. From being picked first on the playground for dodgeball to graduating the top of your class or even finishing a task faster than your peers, most cultures put a high value and status and achievements, especially in the United States, which is a huge market.
One of the most popular and oldest examples of gamification is within the travel industry when frequent flyer programs became all the rage. The movie Up In the Air, starring George Clooney, focuses on a man who has a goal of becoming only the seventh person to earn ten million frequent flyer miles and join an ultra-exclusive club.
People love to be first, they love to be in exclusive groups and they love to beat friends and colleagues; just win baby!
Gamification and Apps
Games are the highest revenue producing type of app in stores by far. Much of this has to do with the fact that people like to play games and mobile devices are a great way to tap into that quickly and easily even if you only have five minutes to kill.
But, those fun, competitive aspects can and should be applied to other types of apps as well to create the same level of engagement and retention that game apps garner.
For example, you can use gamification to drive desired user behaviors by rewarding users who accomplish specific tasks. You can offer rewards such as badges and points which help elevate the status of a user. Finally you can create leaderboards that taps into the competitive nature of people driving them to complete more tasks which in turn fosters a deeper level of engagement.
Pillars of Gamification
Here are the three basic aspects of Gamification that you should look at incorporating into your current or next app design no matter what the app category:
- Achievements – This pillar includes the ideas of Progress, Badges and High Scores. Progress is fairly simple – you have completed 55%. Badges offer more options as you can award various badges based on progress, game play and achievements. Finally there are high scores which can be done numerous ways such as comparing against friends or co-workers for each section and overall.
- Competitions – There are two ways you can leverage competitions; pride and versus opponents. Pride comes from comparing yourself to others on leaderboards, for example. Pitting people against other people creates instant competition in respect to things like badges awarded. Educational software for kids uses this concept a lot to help fuel learning.
- Fun – Fun is a pretty basic idea but you can break it down into easy or challenging types of fun. For example, many games start off very easy on purpose to hook users in as the rack of basic achievements. Then the challenges start to set in, because if things remain too easy people will lose interest.
The Bottom Line
In the United States over 90% of all young adults play video games. Many children starting at age 6 and in some cases under are playing games on tablets or smart phones. In schools at the kindergarten level, education learning games are being incorporated. That alone shows that the future adults in the U.S. are primed for gamification.
Add to that the statistic of approximately 50% of all internet users play social games and you can see the potential. The bottom line is that yes, gamification can increase your apps engagement along with increasing productivity, motivating users to do what you want simply by using our love of competition, rewards and fun.