Gamification (9): The History of Gamification

Before modern industrialization was established, businesses experimented with many ways to market and ignite customer loyalty. Decades later, companies are still searching for the best method to produce better results for their brands by re-establishing behaviors in purchasing, user engagement, and gamification.

The term “gamification” is the implementation of both game-design and its principles in circumstances outside of games. Gamification is utilized to stir human’s native desires to socialize, learn, master, compete, achieve, express, raise status, and more. It is the best way to improve user engagement, organizational productivity, flow, learning, crowdsourcing, exercise, rehabilitation, etc…

For the first time, gamification was widely accepted in 2010 when the word was referred to as applying social and reward elements into the software.

Now how in the world did gamification become so popular? What is the history behind it?

Gamification Timeline

1824 — Kriegspiel

Kriegsspiel represents a wargame genre that was developed by the 19th-century Prussian army. It displayed powerful battlefield tactics to its officers, or players, playing the game.

1896 — S&H Green Stamps

S&H Stamps was a trading stamps brand that grew popular in the United States from the early 1930s to the late 1980s. Founders Sperry & Hutchinson first partnered with U.S. retailers in 1896. Their biggest retailers were supermarkets, gasoline filling stations, and stores. Their stamps needed to be first issued in denominations of 1, 10, and 50 points, and then perforated with a gummed reverse. With the stamps collected, shoppers can moisten the reserve and mount them in collectors’ books provided by S&H at no extra cost. Each collector’s book had 24 pages where one page required 50 points to fill, which totaled to 1,200 points for the entire book. Once filled, these books were used as exchanges for premium goods like houseware from the Green Stamps store. All premium goods had specific values that reflect their worth by the number of completed stamp books. Easily, these books became a marketing selling point for retailers to reward loyal customers.

Source: Image of a S&H Stamp

1908 — The Boy and Girl Scout movement

The largest scouting organization and one of the largest youth organizations in the United States are Boys Scouts for America and Girl Scouts of the United States America. The Boy Scouts have about 2.3 million youth participants and about one million adult volunteers, whereas the Girl Scouts also have about 2.5 million young female members and 750 adult volunteers. Being a scout has proven to be highly beneficial in terms of teaching children about morals, honor, and survival. Scouts could earn badges for becoming skillful in certain activities.

Source: Image of a Boy Scout

1973 — The Game of Work

Known as the Grandfather of Gamification, Charles Coonradt shared his experience and thoughts on gamification with a book called The Game of WorkInterestingly, many Fortune 500 companies praise Charles’ The Game of Work, noting that it is an enjoyable read and their businesses saw noticeable increases in productivity. He showed them how to gamify workplaces by defining goals, tracking scores, and providing consistent feedback.

1978 — The Birth of Social Video Games

MUD1 — MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) is recognized as the very first virtual world game to have existed. It was designed by creators Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle at the University of Essex in England. Roy and Richard sparked a fire into the social online gaming world of what can be possible. And although the game’s interface doesn’t look quite impressive to current society, the combined game elements of interactive fiction, role-playing, and dial-up access to a shared computer have inspired many popular multiplayer games today.

Source: Wiki

1981 — The world’s first frequent flier program- AAdvantage

AAdvantage is the frequent-flyer program of American Airlines. It allows members to accumulate miles in order to redeem tickets, upgrade service class, or obtain free or discounted car rentals, hotel stays, and merchandise.

1983 Holiday Inn — Hotel chain Holiday Inn launches their first loyalty program campaign.

1990 Gaming becomes Popular — A new generation of gamers begin to rise as the annual surveys show that 30% of households own an NES (Nintendo Entertainment System).

1999 The Power of Fun gets Recognized — Society gradually understands how powerful the concept of ‘fun’ is even in non-gaming contexts. Professor of Psychology at University of Glasgow Stephen W. Draper releases his study on why user enjoyment needs to be a major requirement in software design.

2002 Coining Gamification — British-born computer programmer and Father of Gamification, Nick Pelling (born 1964) coins the term ‘Gamification’ to help us define the engagements and research on the evolving concept of games.

2005 The first modern Gamification platform is created — Also known as one of the first gamification pioneers, Rajat Paharia created Bunchball, a platform designed to boost engagement on websites by adding a layer of game mechanics. It would be another 3 years before they adopt the term ‘gamification’

2007 Gamification at home — Web developer and game designer Kevan Davis launched Chore Wars. Its purpose is to incentivize the act of doing chores by transforming the boring nature into a game. With a fantasy role-playing approach, Chore Wars gains approval amongst all age groups.

2009 Gamification in Learning — Schools in the U.S.A. begin to accept students, starting with a 6th class, into a game-based learning environment.

2009 Gamification in Apps — The app Foursquare was launched, allowing users to search and discover new places. It started with being more of a social platform with strong examples of gamification like awarding users with badges and other achievements.

2010 Coining Gamify — Nathan Lands coins the term ‘Gamify’, drawing towards a more active way of describing gamification mechanics into non-game situations.

2010 Gamification in User Engagement — DevHub builds a points system to their website, resulting in an increase in their user engagement by 70%.

2010 Business Booms in Gamification — Company Gamification Co. holds their first Gamification Summit in San Francisco, CA.

2012 Rising Interest in Gamification — Nearly 45,000 students enroll in Professor Kevin Werbach’s online gamification course on the online learning platform called Coursera.

2012 Gamification takes the World — Analysts at predicted 70% of global organizations will have at least 1 gamified application by 2014.

2013 Gamification Goes Above Expectations — 61% of surveyed CEOs and other senior executives say they take daily game breaks at work.

2014 Slowballing Customer Satisfaction — 9/10 companies reported that their gamification efforts are successful.

2016 Gamification Valued — Gamification surveyed to be a profitable $2.8 billion industry.

2018 Gamification Continues to Grow — Gamification’s market value continues to increase at a value of $5.5 billion.

Through history, we know that gamification started with “war simulation” ideas to marketing “loyalty programs.” Embracing game mechanics into non-game settings were proven to be useful and productive. It inspires and motivates people to do something that doesn’t look appealing to do it.

Gamification (if done right) can improve productivity, increase motivation, encourage creativity, strengthen communication processes, favor employee engagement, introduce innovative dynamics, develop specific skills, and elevate a better corporate image.

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