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Fast Lane: Forget gamification it’s all about playification

Cara Waters /

Just when I had my head around the theory of gamification there’s a new thing: playification.

To recap, gamification is the idea that business can harness the potential of powerful and engaging responsive design that gaming induces on cognitive behaviour to grab attention, memory, perception and high levels of engagement.

Great examples of gamification include Foursquare, Empire Avenue, eBay and Facebook with its multitude of apps.

But as I discovered last week at the V21 Digital Conference in Melbourne gamification is now old hat.

Ashley Ringrose, the founder of Soap Creative and an advocate of playification told the conference gamification doesn’t necessarily result in the desired connection.

“You are not going to make something fun by just allocating points to it,” he says.   

Ringrose says gamification is just one tool within the play toolbook.

“Play can let you connect with someone on a much deeper level and get results,” he says.

You may think of play as being just for kids but Ringrose says it’s not just kids who can learn through play.

When you are an adult you don’t stop learning through play, you just stop playing.

Play can be a powerful device for business as it taps into creativity and imagination.

“Harness the imagination of your customers, it’s the most powerful part of the brain,” Ringrose says.

So how do you incorporate playification in your business?

It’s simple really – just try to have a sense of fun.

Here are three examples of businesses using playification:

1. Soap Creative: boring meetings card game

Ringrose practices what he preaches at Soap Creative and tries to engender a sense of play in everything the creative agency does.

This includes every employee having their own soap character name and using a card game to be used in boring meetings which includes one “get out of meeting free” card which can be played once a month.

2. Sydney Dogs & Cats Home: Frankie the Wonder Dog

When you give to charity you usually get a tax receipt, but the Sydney Dogs & Cats Home improved on this experience with Frankie the Wonder Dog.

This cartoon creation “rewarded” charity givers by performing a trick to say thank you.

Many of the tricks encouraged a repeat donation.

3. Toyota’s #carsthatfeel campaign

OK, Toyota is a pretty big business but this idea is too cute not to share.

Soap Creative turned three Prius cars at Sydney’s Vivid festival into sentient beings for a #carsthatfeel campaign.

“People normally wouldn’t hug a car or kiss a car but we had to clean it every day because it was covered in lipstick,” Ringrose says. 

While “playification” can perhaps be added to the lexicon of new and stupid business terms – having more fun in business is something we can all get on board with.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is the former editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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