It’s all a game? A vital part of a game is the attitude we bring to it, and it to us.
I started writing this in the ‘Video Game Museum’ in Sheffield, which is an appropriate place to start an article on ‘Gamification’, to ‘make something like a game’.
The assumption is that people like games, games are fun, (and sometimes addictive), and the gaming industry is worth £3Billion plus in the UK alone, so if you can make a tech company that provides a service in a way that feels like a game to the user, you’re probably onto a good thing. Successful gamification of user experience is a bit of a golden ticket in tech. Incredibly hard to achieve though.
To put it in context, look at Tinder. Pre Tinder dating sites required arduous form filling, your likes, dislikes, history, it was more like a CV than anything enjoyable, more like applying for a job. In the pre digital age, this was how dating agencies worked. And when they process was digitised it didn’t really change much, just that the forms were online. The system was digitised, but not redesigned. Tinder changed all that. Now dating was a game, a card game like snap, where you swipe people left or right, and they do the same for you. This was a groundbreaking advancement in the digital dating experience and made Tinder a global phenomenon and Worldwide brand. The service of connecting people for dates wasn’t new. But the way it was delivered was unique, and uniquely successful.
A vital part of a game is the attitude we bring to it, and the attitude it brings out in us.
Tinder tends to encourage a certain ‘dismissive’ attitude in the ease at which hundreds of people can be rejected on literally face value. The making of dating into a game reduced the significance of the other ‘players’. An interesting side effect of the process.
In fintech reinventing user experience can be the single biggest factor in a successful product. Look at how Wonga re invented the loan application process with the ‘slider bar.’ It made it fun and engaging to check how much it would cost to borrow money. That’s an extraordinairy achievement of design. The user could experiment with it and toy with it to see how much different loans would cost. By making the process fun and enjoyable the customer moves through to the ‘purchase’ aspect with minimum friction, and feels good about the journey. Wonga continued this gamification strategy right the way through into marketing with puppets and ‘fun’ adverts, ultimately censored and a source of complaint. Wonga got a lot right, and a few things terribly and terminally wrong. The fintech challenger banks are striving to develop user experiences that feel less like ‘doing finance’ and more like a game. Monzo and Revolut lead the way in this, having successfully embedded a sense of personality into their systems. Starling bank is still way behind in this game of ‘give the bank a character.’
How far can it go? Can we ‘gamify’ our businesses, our work, our lives? Is it possible to make them fun, exciting, and challenging? Ultimately it’s about how we feel, and the perception of consequences of getting it right, and getting it wrong, and our willingness to participate and try new things. In games ‘attempting’ ‘failure’ and ‘losing’ are absolutely vital in terms of learning and improvement. Some things can only be achieved after several attempts. That’s the joy and satisfaction of it. Do our workplaces allow for such growth building? Do we ourselves allow it?
We play, and learn, and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, and usually the more we play the better we get. One of the most important aspects of a game is the ability to try again, to improve, to learn from past performance and take those lessons and build on them. Here’s To round two.