gabeGaming is becoming more and more popular and reaches new audiences of all ages, especially since the range of games has been expanded significantly through apps and social games.

Gabe Zichermann, founder of the strategic consultancy Dopamine, explored the concept of “Funware,” a new model for incorporating and leveraging games and game mechanics to reach today’s customers. In his books Game-Based Marketing, Gamification by Design and The Gamification Revolution (Q1 2013), the expert in gamification and customer acquisition provides many reasons why companies should make use of games to build extraordinary customer engagement. Besides, he knows pretty well that nothing is more important to serious marketers than loyalty or its new proxy, engagement.

According to Gabe, “Funware” is the use of game mechanics in non-game contexts, and springs from the notion that any consumer experience can be made more fun, and through fun, more engaging. He believes that consumers are equally motivated by status as they are by cash or prizes, which means that retailers can offer cheaper rewards (virtual branded merchandise, early access to new products/services) in lieu of costly rewards. Such a switch will actually improve retention and sociability, especially among younger demographics, while vastly reducing loyalty program costs.

By definition, loyalty is expressed when a consumer chooses your product/service preferentially when other options are equal, and is a form of incremental affection whose balance can be easily disturbed. In that sense, gamification is actually a new way of thinking about loyalty, that is after all about driving incremental user action in a crowded environment. Gamification is able to do that and deliver viral user growth, improved satisfaction, and revenue.

In addition, Gabe believes that the stickiest content for consumers is the one that delivers social status, as it enables them to appear smarter, more connected, more successful, etc with their friends. Companies can give major loyalty programs a run for their money with gamification, focusing on great design, user engagement and scalable, non-cash rewards. The trick is, however, not only to know your customer’s purchase motivations, but what drives them to invest, engage and succeed. Thus, make use of a gamer’s ambition to explore, socialize and achieve something and embrace the challenge to design for all different motivators to ensure maximum relevance and consumer impact.

The concept of enterprise gamification closely follows the idea of positive reinforcement, which defines reactions to a certain behavior that increases the chance of that behavior to occur again in the future. That behavior is, in the vast majority of all cases, the motivation to "win the game", either at an individual level or as a team. The desire and motivation to succeed in gamification is founded in the following key components provided by an application:

1. Competition;

2. Status, scores and leaderboards;

3. Metrics leading to KPI;

4. Monetary rewards, non‐monetary rewards and achievements;

5. Progress.

And keep in mind that traditional game mechanics offer the tools that are required to create the infrastructure and support network to sustain the motivation, including:

1. Transparency of the application and the definition of succeeding;

2. Infinite gameplay with multi‐level design;

3. Access to related resources and feedback;

4. Social integration and access to superiors;

5. Communication and sharing

As a goal‐driven strategy, enterprise gamification can of course be fine‐tuned over time. In an ongoing process, the factors of the gamification strategy can be modified to follow changing business objectives.

Not to mention that with the rise of smartphones and tablets, gamification will most probably have a triumphal procession. Since playing games in breaks in everyday life, such as sitting on the bus or at the doctor, is closely linked to the success of smart phones and tablet computers, it can be expected that game-based marketing will be even more in demand and become trend-setting in the near future.

By MediaBUZZ