Introduction: For the Win by Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter
For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business by Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter is about gamification. Last summer and into the fall, the Wharton School of Business offered a free online course on gamification led by Kevin Werbach. His new book expands on the topics that he introduced in the course. For the Win is divided into eight sections and at the core, it is about how to use gamification to improve your business.
- Introduction: Why Can’t Business Be Fun?
- Level 1: Getting into the Game: An Introduction to Gamification
- Level 2: Game Thinking: Learning to Think Like a Game Designer
- Level 3: Why Games Work: The Rules of Motivation
- Level 4: The Gamification Toolkit: Game Elements
- Level 5: Game Changer: Six Steps to Gamification
- Level 6: Epic Fails: And How to Avoid Them
- Endgame: In Conclusion
What is For the Win by Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter About?
The premise of For the Win is that fun is a very valuable tool that can transform a business by using it to tackle serious business pursuits like marketing, sustainability, human resources, human engagement and so on. The authors Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter pose the question, “What if you could reverse-engineer what makes games effective and graft it into a business environment?” and they respond, “That’s the premise of an emerging business practice called gamification. Our goal is to show you exactly how gamification can be used as a powerful asset for your organization.”
The book provides many examples of how companies are using gamification to achieve their business goals, which gives the reader ideas on a variety of ways to use gamification at work and in their business. So what is gamification? “The use of game elements and game-design techniques in non-game contexts.”
- Game Elements: A toolkit to build a game. They can be embedded into activities that are not games.
- Game-design Techniques: Aspects of a game that make them fun, challenging, engaging, and resonate emotionally.
- Non-game Contexts: Involve real-world business or social impact goals.
Why Consider Gamification?
- Engagement: Motivate people to do things.
- Experimentation: Mastering a game is about experimentation. In games if you make a mistake, you get to start over and try something new.
- Results: Gamification works and companies such as Nike, Microsoft and American Express have had great successes with it.
To be successful at gamification you must first learn to think like a game designer. So what’s in a game? According to Werbach and Hunter, “Games are voluntary. Those who play have to make choices and those choices have consequences that produce feedback….Those decisions affect your experience playing the game.”
To adopt a gamification mindset requires that you ask yourself why are people motivated to buy your product or service in the first place? Why do they want to do business with you? And then ask yourself, how can you make your business more interesting, engaging, fun, and more compelling. If you’re a gamer, your objective is to win the game. On the other hand, if you’re a game designer, you want to get the gamers to play the game. That’s a subtle, but major distinction. “If you think of your customers, and even your employees, as players in a game you operate, you’re more likely to identify such opportunities to give them meaningful choices.”
The authors spend time explaining how to determine if your business processes are suitable for gamification. And they delve extensively into motivation, and explain the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. For intrinsic rewards, you do a ‘thing’ for its own sake because it is fun and enjoyable and you’re not focused on the consequences. For extrinsic rewards, it’s about the reward and not the ‘thing’. Create rewards that maximize engagement because people want to do a thing because they find fun and meaning in the activity.
Look at gamification as a means to produce authentic happiness and to help people flourish while achieving your own goals at the same time.
5 Big Ideas from For the Win by Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter
- An exclusive focus on short-term factors will produce short-term benefits at best, while risking much larger long-term costs.
- Engagement is your competitive advantage. Game-design techniques provide you with a means to achieve it.
- Successful gamification involves two kinds of skills –- the understanding of both game design and business techniques.
- Gamification done right points toward a radical transformation in conducting business.
- Gamification is about finding the fun in the things that we have to do.
Gamification is Developed in Six Steps
- Define business objectives: Have a sound understanding of your business goals. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why do you want to gamify your business process (es)? What are your performance goals for gamification? Rank the objectives in priority of importance to the organization, and think about tradeoffs. How will the objective benefit the organization?
- Delineate target behaviors: Now that you understand why you are gamifying, what do you want players to do and how will you measure them? Be very specific, and your expectations from players should align with the stated business goals. Analytics are important.
- Describe your players: Who is using your systems? What motivates and demotivates them? Try to look at things from their perspective. Segment your players into more than one subgroup, and have character models.
- Devise activity cycles: The game must have a beginning – the players have to have a starting point. Then build in loops and branching trees. There are two types of activity cycles, engagement loops and progression stairs. Structure the way the loop happens. Map out your player journey in short and long-term goals. The first stair is onboarding and it should be simple so that it attracts players and they know what to do and the level of difficulty increases as the game progresses to mastery. Action produces feedback, which motivates you to take another action.
- Don’t forget the fun: Always step back and ask yourself if the system is fun. Would players participate if there weren’t any extrinsic rewards? What aspects are engaging for the user? Make it engaging for a broad group of people.
- Deploy the appropriate tools for the job: This is the implementation stage where you have to pick the appropriate mechanics and components and coding them into your systems. Pick the right tools and keep improving the system to work for real people.
When you develop a gamification system, make sure that you find the balance between rewards and user experience. Something you may take for granted is to seek legal advice so your gamified system doesn’t place your company at risk. Is personal information safe? Are you adhering to laws that protect your customers and employees? Understand the laws governing the use of personal information. At all times be transparent with your business practices.
Final Thoughts: For the Win by Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter
I recommend For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business by Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter because it offers many ideas that will help you to make your website more engaging. And on top of that, gamification is a new trend.
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