Calling yourself a ‘gamer’ is something that’s only come about in the last 25 years, as video games slowly but surely broke into the mainstream. ‘Gamification’ is no longer a codeword of the hippies and the geeks – it’s become somewhat familiar to the common person. So you might be rather surprised that video games, which are a staple of many of our childhoods (and adulthoods, honestly), have remained isolated from other spheres of life until rather recently. The world is just beginning to embrace the appeal of games in business and learning – and to that we say, better late than never!
But first, let’s remove our gamer hats and get objective here. Gamification is cool and sounds like the future, can we prove its real impact? Will it be just another novelty to come and go? Here’s our projection of how video games may be influencing (or not influencing at all) some important areas of life in the years to come.
‘Gamification’ is no longer a codeword of the hippies and the geeks – it’s become somewhat familiar to the common person.
GAMIFICATION IN MARKETING
Gamification means transforming dry or painful tasks into playful and interactive ones, giving one the incentive to invest deeply in the action. This provided a golden business opportunity no intelligent entrepreneur would miss. The early 2000s saw advertisers enthusiastically jumping onboard the bandwagon to market their products – consumers are suddenly presented with new game-like ‘engagement levels’ to incentivize them to spend, collect and spend more. It soon became the new fad, the must-have marketing practice.
But digging past the surface, we’ll see that these so-called mechanics are little more than gimmicks. The vast majority of brands go only as far as getting consumers to make an avatar, collecting "points" through an app of sorts, then converting the points collected into purchase vouchers. While others have gone further and created full-fledged casual games, consumers didn’t seem willing to devote much time to playing replicas of popular puzzle games.
And so, disappointingly, our verdict is that the effectiveness of gamification in selling products remains unproven.
PLAY AND LEARNING
But this doesn’t mean the case for gamification falls flat. Let’s consider a promising field where it could make a world of difference – education. Many types of alternative teaching (like Montessori) advocate learning through discovery, curiosity and experimentation. Aren’t these precisely the hallmarks of a good video game as well?Whether it’s figuring out the logic of a puzzle or exploring an open world, you’re motivated by the same thirst for decoding, investigating and understanding.
We can’t claim that Tetris has made a huge difference in anyone’s cognitive abilities (perhaps you’ll become marginally better at packing for your next holiday?). But we’d say with confidence that games are a goldmine for the delivery of certain subjects – history, for instance.
Every history professor dreams of transporting their students back to a distant time, to help them understand not only what had happened, but how it had happened. The ‘Discovery Tour’ mode of Assassin’s Creed Origins accomplishes exactly this – it offers seventy-five virtual tours of the game world of Ancient Egypt with educational content for each monument. Antoine Bourguilleau, historian-researcher and specialist in the history of simulation games, believes that “video games are closer to what we call active learning. We’re moving away from the transmitter-receiver model of knowledge transfer and we’re becoming the transmitter of our own knowledge. We decide where we want to go digging.”
" Video games are closer to what we call active learning. We’re moving away from the transmitter-receiver model of knowledge transfer and we’re becoming the transmitter of our own knowledge. We decide where we want to go digging."
But can video games live up to this grand new vision of education? History is much more complicated than any game can retell. Antoine believes that people don’t expect complete historical comprehensiveness and accuracy of video games either – games only need present the image we have of history. The video game’s true role is to push players to find out more on their own.
PLAY AND WORK
What about the working world, then? We know that video games are a way to experiment without risk and fail with no serious consequences. It is a forgiving and fun environment in which one can try again and again, share one’s experiences with a community and exchange knowledge. This means one can gain experience faster than they normally would – a benefit perfect for the business world. Game-like simulations are now being used in a variety of settings, from training service professions to mock interviews and re-enactments of professional scenarios, making it possible to practice potentially difficult skills without the threat of failure.
But enough with the serious stuff of work and school; video games are now knocking on the doors of its neighbours in its home territory – entertainment. Game have become synonymous with music, art, social platforms and most interestingly of all – sports spectacles. We’re no longer only going on our solo adventures – esports have turned games into an exciting arena that boasts of new content and novel scenarios every day. Iconic titles like StarCraft, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty and Super Smash Bros are bringing together growing number of spectators across the globe and competing in these spectacles has evolved into a much-admired profession. Interestingly, the spectators are not there to see characters knock each other out – they are here to see human players perform actions necessary for one player to take down another before their eyes. We’ve truly entered a new era – an extraordinary one where people from the real world are breathing life into a completely virtual reality.
There are so many other areas of life we could dissect to find traces of gamification, but that would be an open world game in itself. In short, it’s obvious that reality and virtuality are slowly melding into one. Games have become much, much more than mere entertainment, and we game makers are more than ready to experience this exciting new world.
This article is adapted and translated from Ubisoft Stories. Please find the original source here.