This is interesting. A practical theory to use in marketing that ties back to my core theme that the real future of our industry has virtually NOTHING to do with "social media" and everything to do with 'brand experience". Tying in the notion of game-playing in order to win rewards is an insight into human nature that any brand can put to use.
This is from a post by one of my media heroes (and I don't have many!), Uwe Hook, on MediaBizBloggers today:
What is gamification?
Gamification is the use of game place mechanics in order to encourage people to adopt applications and, ultimately, change behavior. Think about Foursquare: People are encouraged to check-in at physical locations in order to earn badges, mayorships and rewards (coupons, freebies, etc.). Gamification or Game Mechanics work because it makes technology more engaging/entertaining by encouraging desired behavior and taps into the human desire to play a game. It can help to perform tasks that are normally considered boring or arduous.
Gamification will gain in importance
There's a good case to be made that 'Pleasure' should be added to the 5 P's of marketing. Why shouldn't pleasure be an extension of a great customer experience? Right now, customer experiences are mostly limited to well-working and easy to use. In the near future, a great customer experience has to add the fun factor. When you're being rewarded to do your timesheets, you'll do them more timely. And it might be even a task you'll be looking forward to. You can create 'player journeys' to reward people with status, access and power – you create meaning inside of the mechanics. Loyalty programs can be expanded through leaderboards, each customer interaction can become an enjoyable experience.So in building apps and games for contests, or influencing consumers to "like" your product in social media (i.e. trying to get free PR), if we can build in game-mechanics, even soap brands might be able to improve peoples' involvement with their products. The trick is to make the mechanics relevant to the product's use. Hm...