Is Gamification, “The Next Big Thing” in Marketing?

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Gamification (Gam-if-ication)
noun
1 The use of game design techniques and game mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences.
Some are calling gamification “the next big thing in marketing.” I have to ask, Is gamification really “the next big thing?” Or is it something that agencies and brands already offer that now has a hot new buzzword?
The first example of gamification that comes to mind is FourSquare. FourSqaure was a recent adopter of gamification; rewarding users for engaging in, otherwise, pretty mundane tasks (checking-in to locations). Users check-in when they arrive at al local, are awarded virtual badges and mayorship, can see where their friends are and can earn discounts to retailers who choose to offer them.
Where FourSquare seems to fall down is, once the excitement from the first few days of being awarded newbie badges, battling for mayorships and seeing your friends check-in wears off, you’re just left with a few, mainly lame, discounts for places you already frequent, and you become just another FourSquare stalker.
A real-life example of seemingly smart gamification are frequent flyer miles (FFM). Here, both the airline and the passenger are rewarded handsomely — the airline gets the passenger’s business and the passenger grows closer to a discounted flight. Save up long enough and passengers can earn a free flight. Kinda makes virtual badges and mayorships seem pretty lame when you’re headed off to the beach on your free flight.
So why is this word “gamification” so popular now, when things like loyalty programs and FFMs have been around for quite a while? There are several projects we have worked on here at CM where gamification was involved. One example CurrentMarketing created gameification was developed for our friend, the little German, with a game called Polka Hero. While users are trying their skills at playing the game, they are also engaging with the little German — and the brand.
What are your thoughts? Do you think gamification is, “The Next Big Thing” or just a buzzword that is just now catching on?

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Rob Womack

If there’s anyone who can honestly say, “Been there, done that,” it’s Rob. After traveling the world for seven years in his 20’s, Rob went to LA and started working in film production. Then it was off to New York, where he learned how to program, which eventually brought him back home to Louisville to build websites. At Current360, Rob heads up our in-house production studio, creating all things digital for our clients — videos, commercials, radio spots, and a lot more. 

When he’s at home, Rob likes to create things like homemade kombucha and music.