The business of playing.

It’s human nature to play. We do it from the moment we enter the world. It enables us to discover new things, learn and grow.  But once we reach adulthood and take on all the responsibilities that come with it, we don’t get to play nearly as much. However, with the explosion of online games and Apps over the last decade, it’s become commonplace for adults to play games, particularly on their smartphone or tablet. Just look at the success of the incredibly addictive Angry Birds. It’s been downloaded over one billion times! To put that into context, the board game Monopoly has sold 275 million copies worldwide.

I think it’s fair to say that the gaming community can no longer be defined by the dudes who sit up all night huddled over their Xbox controller playing Call of Duty. Online games and Apps are so popular it’s no surprise that big brands, employers and governments are using games to encourage desirable behaviour. It’s known as ‘gamification’ and it’s starting to gain some real traction.

Gamification in the marketing sense of the word is the use of game mechanics to engage with customers and encourage desirable behaviour i.e. sales (that usually comes with some sort of reward – points, product related rewards etc.). It’s a genuine way to build relationships and brand loyalty with your customers and keep them engaged with your brand.

Take Volkswagen for example. They’ve combined people’s love of car racing games with the practical need for test driving and created a car game App using Volkswagen cars. Check out the Sports Car Challenge app.

Gamification is also being used to tackle some pretty big societal issues too, like energy consumption. Opower, an independent company in the US, are getting energy utilities to sign on to their customer engagement platform so that their own customers can monitor and reduce their household energy use in a fun, social and competitive environment. Customers can measure their household energy use against Facebook friends who are also signed up with their energy provider, and get points and tips for reducing their energy usage.

Gamification looks set to stay. So if you’d like any advice on how to use gamification for the benefit of your business, feel free to get in touch with us at

Author: Allie Hogan, Account Manager at justONE.

With thanks to Deloitte Review, the engagement economy: how gamification is shaping business, Issue 11, 2012