The first conference around Gamification titled Gamification Summit 2011 took place this week in San Francisco. It was organized by Gabe Zichermann and his organization Gamification.co (yes, co without m) in a nice UCSF location and was totally sold out. 375 tickets for US$695 just flew out the shelves like angry birds on sling shots to hit the pigs.
For those of you who haven't heard yet about gamification: that doesn't mean to make an egoshooter out of a business app, but how we can make the experience of users with our UIs more enjoyable, engaging, rewarding, and in the end more effective (read also the definition in Wikipedia).
Gabe lined up a whole roster of great speakers, interesting topics and panels. Though none of them rotated around enterprise software – mental note: help Gabe to staff his next event with enterprise people - the talks were really inspiring and mindblowing.
To say something about all of the speeches, would be like figuring out that you discovered all levels and secrets of WoW – and who'd want that? Because that would mean the end of the game for me. So I will focus on those speeches that I found most interesting for me.
After Wanda Meloni, who gave an analysts insight into the trends and statistics of this fast growing industry topic, Gabe brought us to a common baseline by defining gamification and giving us an insight in the history of it.
Then Jane McGonigal from the Institute of the Future (isn't that an awesome name for your employer?) and she set the mood for the whole conference. Not only did she start a phone game with the whole audience (I just say so much that during the whole conference the folks yelled "Amen!"), but she really inspired people and lifted the mood. She spoke about Eustress (=positive stress), showed hilarious pictures of faces of videogamers and how they are in the zone, spoke about that games don't make life easier, but that games are putting up obstacles to achieve a goal, compared the terms 'gamification' (looks like a game) vs. 'gameful' (feels like a game), mentioned that cooperative games outratio in popularity competitive games by a factor of 3:1 and that what's common for people indulged in games is the urgend optimism, the social fabric, the blissful productivity and the epic meaning. She calls those people 'super empowered hopeful individuals' or SEHIs.
If you want to know more, she just published a book "Reality is broken". You can also watch one of her former speeches on TED: Gaming can make a better world (18 minutes, you just have to love her for her passion and inspiring speech).
The afternoon then started off with a panel about the best and worst of gamification. What was a recurring theme of the conference was the overly reliance on point- and bagde-systems and believing that this is the only thing to do to make your audience more engaged. It is not. Once you deploy a gamified platform, you need to monitor, encourage, police, fine-tune etc. as well as deploy more measures and cleverer ways to engage your community. And without core content, no gamification will help at all.
Neal Freeland from Microsoft then spoke about Bing and the long way that they went and how they use gamification to attract more users. A case study about the Hiphoppers Jay-Z book launch -part memoires, part lyrics - that was gamified with a really big scavenger hunt using Bing, presented by Demetri Detsaridis from Area/Code really was mindblowing. Those guys had some crazy ideas (and money to blow). But it seemed like total fun and the target audience really went into that game.
The last and in the first moment totally boring sounding speech titled "The Elephant in the Room: Managing Legal Risk in Gamification & Virtual Economies", basically James Gatto's take on the legal risks of gamification in the US turned out to be really interesting. Not least because James – who I think is a lawyer, but has the street cred of leading an Open Source team and development lead in video games – can speak the gamification and nerd lingo. Some of these risks are not hitting Second Life (virtual goods and monetization), IP problems, Facebook-lawsuits etc. show us that this hits closer to home than we want to realize. And as a company originating from Germany, we can also add the legal risks of internal gamification with labor laws.
During the sessions I had the chance to talk to some of the sponsors, like gamification platform providers like bunchball, badgeville or bigdoor, as well as became the joke when I walked into a conversation of the analyst Wanda Meloni and SAP consultant Joshua Greenbaum, introducing me as SAP employee. Right that moment they had discussed that SAP should look into this. And here I was.
I also met SAP colleague Reuven Gorsht from the demo team, who has inspired us with his gamified and awesome iPad apps (see his posts in this group and the iPhone/iPad group).
And also – as heads up- Gabe Zichermann whispered in my ears that he is planning to organize this year a gamification event for the enterprise. I will keep you updated on that one, and we definitely should support Gabe to get this going. I think we will be able to share some of our first insights and this approach could have a real impact on reaching our strategic goal for 2015: 1bn users…