What is Gamification, and How Can it Grow Your Business?

What is Gamification, and How Can it Grow Your Business?

He may be 45 years old and Director of his own company, but he still enjoys Clash of Clans, Candy Crush and that game where you shoot coloured bubbles from a cannon. Sound familiar? The somewhat addictive processes behind popular games such as these are based on some serious psychological science and are also used in the business of gamification.

With absolutely no judgement, we all know (or are) that person who enjoys games on our mobile phone. And we are not alone. A report back in July 2018, CNBC says, “Gamers around the world will likely spend around $138 billion on games this year, according to Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report. The market research firm tracks usage and trends of video games, mobile and esports. The figure represents a 13.3 percent increase year over year, or an extra $16.2 billion.”

Whew, that’s a lot of money. Who knew that shooting bubbles and blowing up other people’s villages could be worth so much? But, more importantly, how are these principles applied in business?

What is Gamification?

Gamification is defined by dictionary.com as “the process of turning an activity or a task into a game, or something resembling a game.”

That is, however, a very simplistic definition. Bunchball does a much better job in defining gamification, and says, “Gamification is the process of taking something that already exists – a website, an enterprise application, an online community – and integrating game mechanics into it to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty.”

Gamification has been employed by businesses worldwide to drive sales, increase customer loyalty, boost staff morale and team engagement, create viral marketing campaigns and collect data.

The secret behind it is simple: When you make something fun and give something worthwhile back then people are more likely to engage with you. Cause + effect. Action + reward.

An article in Business Live says, “At the most basic level, gamification works by eliciting a biochemical response, by stimulating the reward and pleasure centres of the brain among other things. This promotes the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated human behaviour.”

The Fundamentals of Gamification

There is no one-size-fits-all solution in gamification. Each business, industry and outcome will be different, and there are no guarantees. However, there are some fascinating ideas behind why people do what they do and how we can tap into that.

Goal Setting

Once you know exactly what you want to achieve, then you can work with your team to explore how to go about it. In order to achieve this, you will need to know your audience very well to fully appreciate what motivates them, and how you can achieve this while maintaining their dignity and respecting their intellect. The process of gamification must give as well as take: You give me data that I can use to improve my service, and I’ll give you reward points that you can spend in shops that you shop at anyway. You get the picture.

Constant Feedback

A virtual high-five goes a long way to keep users motivated and aware of their actions. An immediate response via text or email to let them know that they are on the right track is key.


We are all innately competitive, and gamification uses this human behaviour to spur us on. Leaderboards, social comparisons, historical data and progress charts show us how we stack up next to others.

What’s the Point?

We all need to know that we’re working toward something, we need a goal – a final outcome. Your goal may be to increase your number of steps per day to 5000, but if you don’t know what you’re doing now, or your progress isn’t being tracked, then you’re just – well – walking more. A product like Fitbit does all the hard work for you. Setting goals, tracking them and reaching them is a critical part of successful gamification.

Level up

Further to the above, don’t you love it when you get to the next level, or when you’ve earned a badge of accomplishment in your game? Status and prestige don’t only reside in getting a platinum card from your bank. (Another great example of status rewards!)

Businesses may encourage staff to get involved in additional training by marking each completed course with a “badge” of sorts leading to an increase, a promotion, or other benefits.

Collaboration and Community

Joining forces with another person or another team to achieve a common goal is as old as time itself. Games use this to get more people involved, invite a friend or refer someone to join your team and work together as a mini-tribe. It offers a sense of belonging, a basic human need.

Smart businesses use this driving force to encourage teamwork, company feedback, or create sales competition to meet team goals. No-one wants to be the guy that let the side down, so everyone just gives that little bit more…for the team.

Brilliant Examples of Gamification in Business

Hands up who hasn’t heard of the Discovery Vitality Rewards program? This genius idea uses the fundamentals of gamification to great effect. Discovery realises that if they keep their customers healthy, then they pay less in doctor’s visits. So, they reward “good behaviour” such as visiting the gym, choosing healthy food and going for regular check-ups.  They realise that a car accident is less likely if you drive safely, adhering to the speed limit and avoiding hard braking and quick acceleration. So, they monitor your driving habits and give you money back if you drive well. That’s a perfect example of a win-win!

Gamification on USSD?

We may think that exciting graphics, sounds and colours are key to success in gamification. Not so. The article in Business Live referenced above says, “…when marketers employ this leverage in the context of human-focused gamification design, they have the ability to create campaigns that resonate with users and achieve their objectives, regardless of the platform, be it a rich-media smartphone campaign or a more basic medium such as unstructured supplementary service data or USSD.”

Panacea mobile has an innate understanding of this exciting landscape and the incredible impact that gamification can have on your business. Would you like to know more? Contact us now on +27 87 151 1043 and let us guide you.

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