What’s old is new again, and I’m not talking about Cracker Jacks. They never went away, and neither did the “prize” inside.
The old and new that I’m talking about is gamification – the application of game mechanics and techniques to make <insert your site, mobile app or product here> more fun, engaging, popular and hopefully successful. But does gamification have any value, or is it just another 21st Century mashup?
The question is more than academic because designing games — particularly serious games, or intentional games as I prefer to call them – is an important part of my practice. And the more I consider the best use of gamification, serious games, or simulations for a project, the more I see them as different points on the same continuum – and one that’s been going for some time. Consider:
- S&H Green Stamps (now GreenPoints) gamified grocery shopping in 1893
- CrackerJacks with a free prize inside gamified candy in 1912
- Spinach sales bounced 33% higher when Popeye began eating spinach in 1931
- Frequent Flyer programs have been rewarding brand loyalty since 1979