Gamification is hot today especially in motivation and recognition. Everybody wants to play the “game” so to speak. The truth is, gamification has been part of the incentive and reward space since the very beginning – we just didn’t have cool word for it when we were doing it in the olden days.

It’s proven that we humans love the idea of playing games and competing.  Adding some of the elements gamification to your program can enhance overall engagement, increase participation, and potentially increase the results you achieve.  For those of you interested in more information on gamification there is a great website called gamification.org that is full of examples, great concepts, definitions and presentations all about gamification.

The common pitfall I see is assuming that gamification requires you have technology to support it. 

The fact is, you don’t.

Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders

Gamification is about structure, not technology. 

If you have ever been a child or have a child (which I think covers most of you out there) you’ve had the experience of sitting at the kitchen table playing a game with your family at Christmas or Thanksgiving.  Believe it or not before Nintendo games didn’t require technology.  You moved pieces around a board in the physical world.  You collected pieces of paper when you passed Go.  No technology involved.  It IS possible to have a game without a joystick and a power outlet.

Don’t assume that you need technology to incorporate gamification elements within your program structure. 

In fact, one of the first things I do when thinking about gamification ideas for my client programs is think about those times that I played games with my family and ask myself if there’s anything within those board games that I can apply in my program design.  Badges don’t have to reside within an app on an iPhone  - they can be something that sits on a desk, or is put on a wall or even something that can be attached to a uniform.  If you think about it… most badges don’t really require technology at all.

Another element of gamification is collecting things – points, tools, etc.  Do you need technology to “collect” things?  Not necessarily.  Can you repurpose poker chips you bought at Toys R Us?  Sure you can.  They can represent anything in your program. 

Here’s the bottom line…

Gamification doesn’t require technology.

Gamification requires creativity.

In fact, I would go as far as to say that our reliance on technology and our assumption that technology is required has reduced our creativity when it comes to program design. 

Like anything else in this world.  Technology is an enabler not a creator. 

Take the time to create a program and create gamification elements for your program that make sense for the audience and the results you want.  Then look to see if there is a technology that supports your program (if it’s even needed.)

And don’t be disappointed if the solution isn’t technology solution, but just a cool way to present the results of the program on a break room wall.