While the little pew pew of lasers from Galaga or the wonga wonga noise of Pac-Man may no longer be echoing through every arcade, the legacy of high scores remains.  People love seeing their name on the leaderboards and feeling like they have earned their place.  Gamification is a relatively new marketing phenomenon that takes basic actions that people do and assigns a point value to them, then allows users to compete for the high score.  Gamification is a growing trend and is claimed by Hubspot to be one of the 100 ideas that have changed marketing forever (source: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33689/10-Genius-Ideas-That-Changed-Marketing-Forever.aspx). 

Gamification draws down to some of the roots of human psychology and the science of sharing.  Why ask someone to share your content if they can create self-rewards for doing so?  The rewards only encourage more interactivity and engagement, building on the power of gamification.  Foursquare is an excellent app and example of usages of gamification.  Companies have started to use Foursquare as a means of rewarding their ambitious customers.  Starbucks gives discounts to whoever is the current mayor in that location, which is obtained by checking in the most and spending the most time in that location.  Starbucks also gives rewards for checking into multiple locations, which increases the likelihood of people wanting to check in.  Commenting on the drinks earns the user even more points, and sharing photos racks up more rewards as well.  Rewards can be virtual or physical.  Foursquare uses a badge system to show off everything you have earned, and companies can offer deals to customers who frequently check in or share their content. 

Gamification is not limited to apps like Foursquare.  Facebook and Twitter have forms as well.  One of the more recent ones done by Riot Games was the Mundo Face challenge.  Riot had people tweet in different pictures of people doing the Mundo pose, which is tongue out and eyes rolled back while mentioning Riot Games and using the hashtag #mundoface (if you want a good laugh, search #mundoface on Twitter).  It generated significant follows, as well as other gamers having a chance to connect with each other over fun pictures.  The winners were selected by Riot and given gift cards toward the game.  Overall it was a very successful campaign.

What are your thoughts on gamification?  Do you see it as a new way to encourage engagement or a gimmick that will die out in a few years?