In the post, What is Gamification and Why Should You Care? , Kate Kohler outlines the intrinsic value of gamifying our world and experience as well as its marketing benefits; “Gamification employs elements of motivation and engagement that games use to draw people in and keep them playing,” she says. Too true. However, gamification is not limited to the business, consumer, and developer world. In this second addition to the Gamification Series, we will explore how developing a game with incentives, awards, and achievements can produce a greater outcome, a greater social good. As opposed to marketing business with gamification, we will examine how gamification can market social change.
Gamification is at the at beginning of what will likely become an incredibly fruitful endeavor, as various organizations and groups seek to explore the potential of gaming technology and ideas that produce behavioral and attitudinal change in public health, international development, education, sustainability, and women’s rights, among other fields. Zamzee, a game that is meant, “to keep kids moving” seeks to improve the health of children through exercise by creating incentives for activity. Zamzee approaches gamification by doubling as both a biometric sensor, the Zamzee smart meter, and as an online monitoring platform that celebrates activity with points and awards. Zamzee says, “The more they move, the more points they earn.” The idea is brilliant and just one unique way in which gamification can literally change our world and improve the lives of today. According to the organization, Games for Change, “By partnering robust online tracking, communities, and rewards, the team at HopeLab has put in over 10,000 hours of testing with Zamzee before its official launch. Their research has shown that children with Zamzee meters move 30% more than the average child, which is the equivalent of a full marathon!”
How else can gamification change the world? There are endless ways to deploy gamification models. We could imagine a Facebook game that enriches our understanding of the roles and value that women and girls play in our world, as is seen with the near finalized “Half the Sky” Facebook game.
A game that stands out among many I’ve seen targets the mobile revolution that the world is seeing across Africa, India, South America, and interior Asia where SMS mobile phones are the dominant form factor, communication portal, and common technology due to the realities of the digital and broadband divide. The game is called “WormAttack!” and is designed in partnership with “Half the Sky” and Deworm the World. The mission is simple enough: educate the women and children of the world about parasitic worms because “over 600 million school-age children are at risk of being infected with parasitic worms.” But how? With “WormAttack!,” the SMS game has children identify and vanquish parasitic worms to win awards, points, and information, adding fun to worm public health. Through playing the game, children learn how worms are obtained and beaten, a simple but effective way of reaching the minds of our world’s youth, informing them about parasitic worms, and prompting them to involve friends and family in the games, thus sharing the information. “WormAttack!” takes the abstract public health issue of parasitic worms and synthesizes it into a simple and engaging SMS game. The SMS game coupled with on-the-ground community interaction, medicine dispersal, and innovative outreach is and will continue to have a positive real-world impact in communities that suffer from parasitic worms.
Gamification may prove to be one of the most effective means for educating our world’s populations, from youth to adults over an array of different subjects. It is through the production of games for good that we will together contribute to the creation of a global social currency. WormAttack!, Zamzee, Half the Sky, and other similar efforts are tackling some of the world’s most common global realities using elements of gamification innovation to inform, fund, and educate populations through SMS mobile technology, social media platforms, and the digital world.