Kelly Vero has been working in the games industry for 25 years. From AAA shooters to matching candies; she’s fascinated by the user experience and continue to be interested and excited by new innovation, technology and applications that make life simpler and experiences more rewarding.
In this article, Kelly explores the rise of game-related activities inside technology and applications which we call gamification.
What is gamification?
Simply, gamification is about you, the end-user, and the bringing together of game design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. For me, it is a way of organising the user experience of your idea, app, or technology to draw in new audiences and retain existing users.
From employee recruitment, to group dynamics, and improving learning we have all at some time or another experienced gamification sometimes without even realising it. This is when gamification is at its best.
But gamification is not just about those things; it’s about ourselves, how we operate, how we approach problems and solutions, and how we could be rewarded for that. The principle of this game psychology provides us with an understanding not just of my area of expertise, like game development; but everything from go-to-market strategies and even scalability.
Being able to bring my experience of developing games and challenges in this way really excites me as a game developer, joining FemTech Lab as part of the Spring 2021 advisory board. And what excites me too is that with FemTech Lab I can work collaboratively, exploring the various challenges and achievements to unlock.
More than a Buzzword
Gamification outside of video games as we know it has only been around, successfully, for about five years. The advent of serious gaming which started to grow in popularity from 2010 seeped out of university labs and into our apps and every day tools. These days the term gamification is the buzzword in creating optimum user experiences within apps and technologies. However, gamification, as a game development principle, has been around since games were invented and became more popularised on an academic level from 1978 onwards.
Thanks to the development of multiplayer experiences, video games have provided players with a shared journey or a competitive reality. That’s not to say that these things didn’t already exist in other games that we can play physicallyー but certainly for video gamesー the Eureka moment may well have been the multiplayer experience. In non-game applications today we might simply call this a “competitive social element”.
How can game elements help you towards your goals?
On a regular day, I have a routine as most people do. I get up at a certain time, check my emails, and have a cup of tea. I might exercise for a little while, empty the dishwasher, go for a walk, and plan my workload. But what if I was to score points for each one of these chores that I complete? My routine would then be gamified. And I could put my routine against yours to see who is more productive during a certain time.
It was from 2002 onwards that serious games companies and labs started to use these exact motivators as KPIs for shaping behaviours and responses to specific situations in training soldiers. As early simulators, they allowed a two-handed foundation where the end-user is able to be rewarded by the response, and developers could monitor, train and analyse users as anonymous, er, users.
In 2012, Gartner had predicted that by 2014 70% of global 2000 organisations would have at least one gamified application. So that means that from these basic life KPIs we are able to explore competitive data systems, assess psychological approaches, and as the end user were able to have some fun making a cup of tea!
Solutions without Problems
Incidentally, Gartner, in that same study, also predicted that 80% of gamification applications in 2014 would fail.
The problem with gamification and it being a buzzword is that everybody wants to do it. But sadly, not everybody can.
Gamification requires a certain level of comparable measurement and the more complex we make that measurement more likely we are to fail at delivering those results. The simpler we make the design for the end-user the more potential we have to be successful. If implemented with simplicity, great things can happen using gamification. Gamification being used as a non-game-focused design element is a tricky challenge for both the start-up and the existing blue-chip company without that expert knowledge in-house.
The growth of FemTech applications and technologies has seen a spike in being able to do everything from monitor ovulation, to process breast milk safely. But aside from reading stats and data analytics of cycles and phases, what are you learning from your app? As it turns out, not much but that’s not always a bad thing.
Tech founders often come to developing their killer app with a problem, something in the day to day that might need solving. How many cups of tea does Kelly drink per day and can we help her with a better habit of drinking coffee instead? (I hope not!) The problem with my tea drinking particularly, is that it’s not representative of the entire market.
A good rule of thumb for the user experience is that it should reflect the universality of how the app will not only reach the target audience, but also how it can work across the entire FemTech ecosystem to enhance the experience for the end user and the factors affecting the end-user as part of a global routine.
When apps lose retention it’s often because the gamification of the app or product is not asking the right questions and that’s when killer apps die.
Working as part of our brilliant advisory board on the FemTech Lab group it is my job to ensure that all voices can be heard as part of the user experience, and gamification can surreptitiously assist mental health as much as it can enhance the go-to-market plan: this integrated approach to developing FemTech founders through FemTech Lab is a level up in thinking, doing and supporting success.