How Gamification Can Help Startups Make Work Fun [Report]

by Nafez Dakkak, January 17, 2013

At the end of last year, PwC US launched the third issue of its 2012 Technology Forecast series: Solving business problems with game based design. This issue examines a topic that has generated quite a bit of buzz, and is perhaps more commonly known as “gamification.” (full disclosure: I’m a contributor to the report).

If you haven’t yet heard of gamification, you aren’t alone – automatic spelling software still fails to identify the word. As the PwC report clarifies, gamification is the utilization of a “wide range of [game] design techniques that can be used in non-game environments” to influence user behavior in certain ways (most experts agree that only existing behaviors can be amplified).

It’s a segment on the rise- the gamification market is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2016.

Although the relevant technologies are in a “nascent state,” experts throughout the report discuss how companies can leverage game mechanics in non-gaming contexts, making marketing campaigns, product development efforts, sales activities, or any other process that much more fun.

Ari Lightman of Carnegie Mellon University, one of the report’s experts, reveals how game-based design can help companies deal with the productivity losses caused by unmotivated employees. Workforce disengagement has in fact become the norm- Gallup estimates that around two-thirds of the workers are disengaged. In contrast, good games are extremely engaging experiences – almost by definition eliciting “joy, excitement, and creativity, and[ the ability to] understand failure, and how to succeed from [it].

Game-based design is still very new in the Middle East. Apart from a pitch at Sharjah Startup Weekend at the end of last year, there’s been very little activity in this space. However, this uncharted territory presents a great new opportunity for many local entrepreneurs, especially those in the rising gaming space and education sectors. Last time I checked, disengagement wasn’t scarce in the Middle East – whether in the office or the classroom. 

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Nafez is a recent Yale Alum who majored in Economics and International Studies and wrote his thesis on Obstacles towards curriculum reform in Jordan and the UAE. A former strategy consultant, he is currently working on research and strategic planning with different education NGOs in Jordan. He is interested in Education Reform, MENA politics, social entrepreneurship, and tech start-ups. His main passion is the intersection between technology and education entrepreneurship. You can reach him on twitter @ndakkak.

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