Lowering barriers with Gamification

I did a very enjoyable talk at the Knowledge Cafe the other day. The audience was made up of various interested people, varying wildly in age – but with a majority belonging to Knowledge Management. It stood out for me in two ways. The first was the fact it was the first time I had done a talk with no slides. I gave the audience the option of having slides or not – they unanimously opted not (a lesson to learn here)! The second was that it was the first time I had really spoken about the concept that gamification can be viewed as lowering barriers.

Let me explain.

Anyone who is doing gamification knows that for many instances, gamification can have a short shelf life, depending on the way you are doing it and the reason you are doing it. Simple systems that offer Points, Badges and Leaderboards are often cited as having very short life spans. However, what if that is ok? I have spoken about the fact that PBL systems are not all evil, that spans to any gamification that has a short life – if it achieves its goal.

For me, one of the most powerful things that gamification has to offer is its ability to help you design systems with low entry barriers. If I can learn a system in a controlled way that is easy and engaging rather than reading a manual – then the entry barrier has lowered for me. If getting some points and badges amuses me enough to take a second look at a system, then a barrier has been lowered. The barrier to getting noticed in an organisation can be lowered if I appear at the top of a leaderboard about my chosen speciality that the whole company can see. A fitness app, like Zombies Run, lowers the mental barrier I may have about getting fit – because it is enjoyable.

If adding gamification to something helps to lower the barriers that people may have faced without it – then surely that is a good enough reason to use it – it is for me at least!

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