Getting Your Gamification On

Nicole Peterson
Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011 at 2:00 PM

If you got a chance to view the video Elliott mentioned in his post on gamification earlier this week, then you are familiar with the possibilities of games in our daily lives. I don’t know about you, but the last few minutes of the Jesse Schell’s talk scared me a bit—I’m not sure that I want to live in a world where every action is monitored and geared towards me earning points.

Game pixel image

But then I started thinking about all the ways that gamification touches my life today. Nordstrom has gotten me with their virtual points that I receive for every credit card purchase. My mom has gotten me with her “who’s the best at flossing their teeth” game. Even monitoring the number of ounces of water I drink has turned into a game, with me filling out the little water tracker in my Noom app.

Why it works

As Jesse points out in his talk, adding game elements to every day experiences—gamify-ing something—lets you access new levels of psychology. Drinking water is a pretty mundane experience, but add a little competition in there against my friends to see who is the most hydrated, and therefore the healthiest, and you have just tapped into human beings’ fundamental desire for the species to flourish.

By understanding human behavior, brands are establishing a deep emotional connection between you and themselves with their games. For me, one of the most interesting moments of Jesse’s talk was when he broke down the justification humans give for playing Facebook games. To paraphrase, if I spend a lot of time doing something (playing this game), then it must be worth something. If it’s worth something to me, then it must make sense for me to pay $20 to get more features in the game. And if I paid $20, then it really must be worthwhile because I wouldn’t just spend my money on meaningless things. Ahem. (By the way that surfaces another element of gamification: The monetization of virtual goods, which Jackie discussed earlier today.)

Can I play?

So how can you gamify your brand and get people to connect with it? As Jesse mentioned, the people who are creating these gamified campaigns today aren’t gamers in the professional sense of the word—they are just people who understand how to incentivize behavior to establish a connection with their brand. I’ve got good news for you: Tag can help make this happen. We’ve had several “gamey” campaigns that have been run by our customers, all with fantastic results. Here are just a few:


  • The dining service had been running traditional “collect all 10 pieces and win’” games for years in their cafeterias. To break out of that mold, they integrated Tag into their contests. Users scanned Tags and received a discount on food or won prizes. Eurest was smart; they knew that if they let people get a discount every time, eventually they would get bored and stop playing even if they did get money off their lunch. Instead, using Device ID to associate scans with specific devices, Eurest built a win algorithm that let people win on every third scan, and when they got enough players hooked, began upping the instances so people would win every eighth or tenth time What happened? Instead of people getting frustrated and throwing down their smartphones in a huff (not recommended), their customers kept scanning. That little competitive bug in the back of our brains just won’t let us pass up the opportunity. Participation in their Tag contests has skyrocketed over their traditional ones. Redemption on the coupons has increased too. But the best part: People began buying more. Total receipts are up 15% since introducing the game. And that’s not 15% in virtual money, that’s the real deal.



  • The magazine has incorporated Tag into their free giveaway issues over the past two years. In previous years, players would fill out an entry form online and each day have to return to the website to try and win one of the many prizes that Allure was giving away during the month-long contest. To make things easier, the publication let their players enter using a Tag; they scanned to register for the contest, and again, using device ID, were able to just scan Tags next to the particular item they wanted to win on the day it was available. As an added smart step, Allure also included a tear-out universal entry Tag that readers could keep in their purses. An SMS alert would be sent to them letting them know the items they were most interested in were about to be given away. They could then just fish out that Tag, scan it and be entered to win. Allure has run two instances of the contest and far surpassed their participation and opt-in rates. This demonstrates how people will go to great lengths, or perhaps even depths (depending on the size of the purse) to participate and win.


    Tomorrow I’ll be writing about other brands that are gamifying campaigns and what they are using to evaluate success. Gamification is catching on in many aspects of our daily lives. Put some thought to how you can gamify your campaigns utilizing Tag and let us know about them with your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.


    Next 5 Articles

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