Using car racing in gamification? Some people think that using narratives in gamification is a gross over-simplification. We don’t.
Let’s begin with a bold statement: narrative-based gamification is the next big thing in game design for enterprise gamification. It is not about applying narrative “cosmetics” on top of enterprise applications. It is about more than that, about a real use of the ability to fascinate and engage humans with games that include stories. But narrative based gamification isn’t just about more compelling game mechanics. In many ways, it can contribute to a better result in terms of the results of gamification. It can be used to better communicate corporate goals, help employees master nuanced corporate objectives and work behavior and even encourage learning.
Let’s look at car racing. At this point you may be questioning my logic. Aside from the valet parking kid whizzing around in the Mercedes S-class of a rich restaurant patron, who else car races at work?
And even if you are willing to suspend disbelief at using a car racing narrative theme in enterprise gamification, you still ask yourself what it is all about. Do customer support reps or call center employees talk on the phone while trying to veer their car away from the deadly side of the road or from dropping down a canyon?
Since Gameffective is a narrative-based gamification company, working on many enterprise gamification projects with our Gameffective system, I thought I’d just show you what narrative-based gamification actually is, so you can see it for yourself.
First, let’s think about a call center. Typically, employees in these environments are already motivated through two simplistic game mechanics: leaderboards and points. In most scenarios, in an effort to explain what is important and encourage behaviors that aren’t at the top of mind of service reps, employees get points for activities (all game mechanics are made to drive activities – the secret sauce is to make this engaging and compelling). Since points are calculated (and in some scenarios are used for bonuses, compensation and more), a leaderboard is composed, showing who’s on top, who’s in the middle and who is at the bottom, reflecting performance at a certain point in time.
Leaderboards are double edged swords. Seeing the same name of the same top performer at the top may be encouraging for that person’s runner up, and maybe even for the third or fourth place. It can also be incredibly discouraging for all the rest – they may feel they will never get a chance to excel. Leaderboards also give no context – how is a person doing compared to their previous week? How are others in their professional level or experience?
With all that said, let’s examine the first leaderboard in a car racing narrative.
Meg, our sales rep, using the Gameffective platform, checks her status on the gamification avatar that is connected (with no coding) into her enterprise applications (learning, crm and more).
She seems to be doing well… or is she?. With 648 points, she is already ahead of her monthly target. She seems to not be so far behind the leader in her group (“vendor leader” here). Note that the leader is not named. Their achievement is used as a personal benchmark Meg can use, and not something personal. Additionally, she can see the result achieved by the worldwide leader. Additional indications and benchmarks can be used here in addition, such as her group’s performance benchmark and more.
What can Meg do to improve, though? The race narrative shows her where she is at, just like a leaderboard would, but with better nuance and balance.
This is where learning matters. Gamification can and should be used to encourage learning, regardless of where is started – in CRM or a customer support center. In this case, the race narrative gives Meg the opportunity to dig deeper into the significance of her results and improve them actively, rather than do nothing and stay passive. In real car races, you have a place you can take a brief break and make sure your car is fixed: change the tires, fix the engine. The Pit Stop.
Meg’s gamification console has a pit stop, and it includes information and activities that are tied to Meg’s performance, that can help her do a better job. She can take a literal break from the race, and see how she can do better, re-enforcing a point of view that is about improvement and not about letting the less than stellar performance of the past pull her back. Let’s look at her pit stop.
The pit stop’s metaphor is a dashboard, with five gauges showing Meg’s performance on various levels. Her outbound and sales performance are both in the red zone. That isn’t great. But is she supposed to feel down and out or can she be made aware of her situation and try to improve? No. She should be driven towards improvement. On the other hand, her CSAT and AHT – Customer Satisfaction and Average Handle Time – are good.
However, a flashing service light indicates she can do something about it – get more training, gain a better understanding of her results, do some simulations and more. Suddenly, Meg isn’t encouraged only by the blunt (and sometimes discouraging) stick of competition. She can also have successful “completion” experiences.
At this point Meg checks her activities page, available at the same place. She can check messages, and watch reports for some of the metrics she’s expected to achieve. Some of the reports can give her insights as to where exactly she isn’t performing well enough.
She can also engage in pure training activities, such as watching presentations, going through simulations, courses, going through quizzes and more.
Narratives give metaphors that allow for a nuanced and balanced communication with the employee, showing them what’s important, how, where and what can be done about it. They can also engage employees in stories of improvement and learning, available at any step of the way.