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What is gamification? Lessons for awareness programmes from Pokemon Go

Ira Winkler | July 18, 2017
Gamification is a way to reward people for exhibiting a desired behavior. It is not merely creating a game for people to play, nor making training a game. As Pokemon Go turns a year old, here are some of the things awareness programs can learn from the massively popular game.

So, as you consider Pokemon Go, you see that the game issues rewards for the real-world behaviors of visiting real-world locations, walking/exercising, and spending money. Clearly, spending money is a desired behavior. I have to assume from everything that I read that Pokemon Go creator Niantic has a plan to monetize people visiting real-world locations. While I do not believe it is a business goal for Niantic to have people exercise, I do believe that organizations can use that for wellness programs.

Also, while the game has lost roughly half their players, they have made improvements to retain players. They added more Pokemon to catch. They added more opportunities to score points. They created in-game events where you earn accelerated points. As previously mentioned, they are holding real world events. In addition to retention, this adds excitement to the game for current players and increases engagement. Awareness programs should examine how they can similarly refresh their efforts to create excitement and variety to retain and attract participants. Again, true gamification programs rely upon voluntary participation and enthusiasm.

Gamification can be a very powerful tool. Just make sure that you implement actual gamification, and not just a more creative way to provide information. No matter how good the medium is, it will only have 25 percent of the effectiveness of a real gamification program.


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