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Gamification is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts.
Typically gamification applies to non-game applications and processes, in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, by encouraging users to engage in desired behaviors, by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, by helping to solve problems and not being a distraction, and by taking advantage of humans' psychological predisposition to engage in gaming. The technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, filling out tax forms, or reading web sites.
Available data from gamified websites, applications, and processes indicate potential improvements in areas like user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness, or learning.
Early examples of gamification are based on rewarding points to people who share experiences on location-based platforms such asFacebook's "Place" feature, Foursquare, and Gowalla. Some of the techniques include:
- achievement "badges"
- achievement levels
- "leader boards"
- a progress bar or other visual meter to indicate how close people are to completing a task a company is trying to encourage, such as completing a social networking profile or earning a frequent shopper loyalty award.
- virtual currency
- systems for awarding, redeeming, trading, gifting, and otherwise exchanging points
- challenges between users
- embedding small casual games within other activities.
As of September 2010, gamification was used by marketers and website product managers as a tool for customer engagement, and encouraging desirable website usage behavior. Gamification is readily applicable to increasing engagement on sites built on social network services. One site, DevHub, increased the number of users who completed their online tasks from 10% to 80% after adding gamification elements.
Business applications for gamification are just beginning to appear as well. RedCritter Tracker incorporates gamification elements such as badges, rewards, leaderboards and ribbons into project management.
Gartner Group predicts gamification will be a key trend that every CIO, IT planner and enterprise architect must be aware of as it relates to business.
Gamification is used on Stack Overflow, a question-and-answer site for programmers, and on all of its sister sites for other topics (including the non-Q&A careers site Careers 2.0). Users receive points and/or badges for performing a variety of actions, including spreading links to questions and answers via Facebook and Twitter. A large number of different badges are available, and when a user's reputation points exceed various thresholds, he or she gains additional privileges, including at the higher end, the privilege of helping to moderate the site. Points and badges do not generally carry over between sister sites, because a user's expertise in one topic (such as programming) may be unrelated to their level of expertise, or lack thereof, in another topic. However, one exception is that a user gains 100 reputation points for linking their accounts on sister sites together, if they have at least 200 points on one of them.
In November 2011 Australian broadcast and online media partnership Yahoo!7 launched its Fango mobile app, which allows TV viewers to interact with shows via several gamification techniques like check-ins and badges. The app also offers integration with social networking sites and live viewer discussions, marking a significant strategic shift for parent company Seven West Media (known mainly for its traditional role as one of Australia's main free-to-air TV networks). As of February 2012, the app had been downloaded more than 200 000 times since its launch.
Fitness site Fitocracy uses gamification to encourage its users to exercise more effectively. Users are awarded varying numbers of points for activities they perform in their workouts and gain levels based on points collected. Users can also complete quests (sets of related activities) and gain achievement badges for fitness milestones.
Some other applications of gamification include:
- Employee training programs.
- Wellness and other personal activities.
- Financial services websites.
- Online and in-person shopping.
- Primary education.
- Extreme sports.
- Project management.
- Enhancing loyalty programmes.
- Social Networks.
- Call Center.
- Market Research.
Experts anticipated that the technique would also be applied to health care, financial services, transportation, government, employee training, and other activities.
Alix Levine, an American security consultant, described as gamification some techniques that a number of extremist websites such asStormfront and various terrorism-related sites used to build loyalty and participation. As an example, Levine mentioned reputation scores.
Microsoft announced plans to use gamification techniques for its upcoming Windows Phone 7 operating system design.
The term may have been first coined by Nick Pelling in March 2004 for his gamification consultancy startup Conundra Ltd. More recently, the technique captured the attention of venture capitalists, one of whom said he considered gamification to be the most promising area in gaming. Another observed that half of all companies seeking funding for consumer software applications mentioned game design in their presentations.
In addition to companies that use the technique, a number of businesses created gamification platforms and consulting operations for others to add gamification elements to their own services.
- In October 2007, Bunchball, backed by Adobe Systems Incorporated, was the first company to provide game mechanics as a service, on Dunder Mifflin Infinity, the community site for the NBC TV show The Office. Bunchball customers have included Playboy, Chiquita, Bravo, and The USA Network.
- In June 2009 a Seattle-based startup called BigDoor was founded, providing gamification technology to non-gaming websites.
- In March 2010 a Germany-based startup called Karibugames was founded including among its gaming offer, gamification platforms for big International brands with special target on trips.
- In May 2010, Fanzy launched its social loyalty application on Facebook. Fanzy has raised $850k in angel funding in its first year of operation.
- In September 2010, Badgeville launched at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. Badgeville is backed by Norwest Venture Partners, El Dorado Ventures, and Trinity Ventures, and offers services for gamification, reputation management, and social mechanics. Badgeville raised $15M in venture funding in its first year of operation,. The company has since added more than 150 customers including Oracle, EMC, Samsung, NBC, Deloitte, Rogers Communications, Bell Media, CA Technologies and eBay.
- Several other angel and venture-backed companies emerged in late 2010, including IActionable, BigDoor and Reputely(inactive as of 2011).
- In July 2011, Mountain View, CA based Gigya, a social integration provider for websites, created Game Mechanics suite which has been used in the Pepsi SoundOff social network. 
- In December 2011 Salesforce.com announced the acquisition of the social performance platform provider Rypple, which uses gamification for employee performance and HR.
- In January 2012, Australian based ISW, an IBM Premier Business Partner, created Kudos Badges, a Gamification engine for the enterprise social platform IBM Connections.
- In august 2012 a France-based start up called Fungears launched the first french gamification platform.
An organization, Gamification.Co, organized the world's first conference devoted to the phenomenon, held in San Francisco in January 2011.
San Francisco startup Gamify offers a universal[clarification needed] gamification platform. Gamify has created the Gamification Encyclopedia to document trends in this topic and, together with the SETI Institute, a contest called the "Gamify SETI & Prosper Challenge" to increase participation in its SETI program through gamification.
One company, Seriosity, was created to offer gamification consulting. UserInfuser is the first open source gamification platform provided by CloudCaptive.
Enterprise-Gamification.com is the first organization to offer gamification consulting and workshops for organizations with applications and processes tailored for non-consumer players like employees or business partners.
In August 2009, Gbanga launched the educational location-based game Gbanga Zooh that asked participants to actively save endangered animals and physically bring them back to a zoo. The game encouraged players to maintain virtual habitats across theCanton of Zurich in order to attract and collect endangered species of animals. Through the gaming component, real-world walk-in customer were created for the client Zurich Zoo.
In May 2012, Gamified Enterprise launched to host news and commentary about gamification for Fortune 1000 companies. It has featured content from EMC, Microsoft, and other notable businesses and executives.
Gamification in education is an other concept that companies worked on. SuccessFactors is a solution company that acquired by SAPworked on ttat area.
Current education systems were engineered during the industrial revolution and have not seen radical changes ever since. The main problem is having a batch of students receiving the same educational curriculum. Unfortunately the speed and the interest level of all students vary dramatically and without technological help it is not possible to engineer unique learning experience for the individual students. In today’s learning environment we must understand why we all like playing games and hate having boring lessons. It is possible to embed learning experience to lessons and embed learning objects to games. 
Business software vendor SAP AG is actively working on Gamification of processes in Enterprise. Recently, a virtual game that represented whole plant as perspective game just one would play SimCity just with the difference that each of the actions happen in real.
Besides SAP, also IBM, EMC, CA, Slalom Consulting, Deloitte, Microsoft, LiveOps, RedCritter and other companies have started using gamification for consumer and non-consumer facing applications and processes.
Through the nature of gamification as a data aggregator and its growing adoption, multiple legal restrictions may apply to gamification. Some refer to the use of virtual currencies and virtual assets, data privacy laws and data protection, or labor laws.
|This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (July 2012)|
The term "gamification" and the practices it describes have received negative attention from game industry professionals, business consultants and executives, academics, and communications professionals. A Stanford professor, in a book on the subject,suggested that the gamification of businesses and virtual worlds is creating an expectation among people that real-life interactions follow simple mechanics, and some disillusionment occurs when they do not.
Some critics dismiss gamification as a buzzword, and note that many of its techniques have been in place for a long time. Other critiques include:
- Gamification elements are already present in everyday activities such as happy hours, loyalty programs, etc.
- For business purposes, gamification is invalid, faddish, exploitative, an oversimplification, or a renaming of existing practices.
- Adding to and preying upon the confusion among business decision makers about the meaningful distinctions between games, videogames, social games, gamification, game mechanics, etc.
- The negative consequences of making simple game-like consumer interactions an end in themselves, rather than designing either high quality games or full product designs.
- Gamification sometimes misses elements such as storytelling and experiences which are central to what make games effective, or that gamification has mistaken the addition of points for the application of genuine game mechanics.