Slot machines at the supermarket

I've been talking for a long time about how useful it is to use gamification as a framework for designing playful experiences.

Children respond particularly well to this definition, such as when to take the garbage out you tell them you're timing their performance. The application of this simple competitive mechanic generates a playful attitude and provides feedback and rules of immediate application that help in turning a task not initially welcomed into a quite interesting challenge.

This weekend I had the opportunity to gamify again an everyday task with my kid. In this case, to encourage him to eat a steak, I put all the slices along the perimeter of the plate, creating a closed circle and alternating the meat (my target behavior) with potato wedges and slices of bread, both most desired by the "player", but also more scarce (For gamification geeks, the steak:reward rate was 2:3:5:7 LOL!). In the center of the plate, a bonus pool of potatoes if he ate supper before his father. To increase the feeling of independence, the player could start wherever he wants, even with a potato.

After seeing the results, I reinforce that gamification works (wink!). Now I have to plan something alike with the soup, but that's another story.

In the same line I find at Odi Montero's blog a striking Ogilvy & Mather campaign for Hellmann's that I would like you to watch. After that we can talk about whether this is gamification, game-based learning or "playful design":

What do you think? It's not a playful design exercise, as the campaign has a specific persuasive purpose and aims to make more visible an idea. It is not just oriented towards aesthetic and audiovisual or kinestesic pleasure.

In this case, the core idea of the project is to promote the use of a particular product (in this case mayonnaise) in innovative combinations with other ingredients. All playful design (slot aesthetics, the uncertainty of the combinatorial ingredients, the "reward" in the form of culinary shows ...) are accesory: if we remove all the game elements and prepare a stand with samples to try, we continue fulfilling the goal (though probably not as efficiently).

Therefore, as the design of a game is not the main goal of the project, it's difficult to talk about game-based learning. Gamification it is, then. The difference between these concepts is an issue that I keep going round as you maybe know.

These simple examples of gamification 101 (which with little imagination you can export to the world of education, business or advertising) do not involve complex technology platforms or elaborated knowledge. Success at building perdurable game experiences is based mainly on taking time to know the player and be concerned about what makes him/her feel epic, successful and happy.

Keep playing!

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