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Marcus Thornley

Play Consulting


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How are games rewiring our brains and shaping behaviours of the future?


When I hear the word ‘gamification’, a part of me dies inside.

Gamification can often sound like a buzzword, but I never heard or used the word once throughout the 8 years that I worked in mobile games. Our aim was just to create great gaming experiences that were completely player-focused – simple!

Having come out of the mobile game industry, deconstructing what games are and applying a games mindset to solve real-life business challenges has successfully taught me how game approaches can be powerfully used in the business world.  

Now, more than ever before, I feel certain that having this games mindset is shaping and influencing consumers, business leaders and even the nature of work itself. These areas, which are completely outside of our understanding of ‘games’, are being driven by game approaches.

We can only expect this trend to continue to grow and develop. The world is getting gamified – so you better be prepared!

Gamification will create a business revolution

By using game approaches, we have the ability to transform and revolutionise engagement, motivation and behaviour. At Play, we are doing this every day across healthcare, finance services, media, utilities and retail. But this doesn’t mean that elements of games – such as leaderboards, points, levels and challenges – will make an inch of difference on their own.

This is because it’s the product that matters; once you’re able to understand the core of the product you can supercharge it with gamification. You can optimise the core loops, create the right tone and craft the re-engagement.

Some of the most successful products and leaders on the planet are using a games approach.

Over and above anything else, games are beautiful products that have been designed and created to be frequently used to deliver value, emotion and engagement and, ultimately, change behaviour. At the core of games – among all the characters, whizzing, spinning and, occasionally, guns or candy – there are engaging experiences that drive billions of users to dedicate their time to the gaming experience and, from it, receive joy.

Gamified since birth

In the past two decades games have grown considerably, largely because of the growth of mobile platforms and devices. This year, the games market is estimated to be worth $100 billion, and is growing by 9% every year. User growth has also increased from an estimated 100 million gamers in 1995, to 2.6 billion – and the average player is now 35.

Even more significant than the amount of gamers and the average gaming age is the societal trend that gaming is causing. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report brought some fascinating thoughts and ideas to light and, not only were games the most discussed aspect of the report, but Mary also nailed what is now the reality: Millennials and Generation X have been gamified since birth.

Ultimately, the next generation of employees, customers and future business leaders understand, respond to and thrive on game loops; they are wired to respond to the games mindset.

The future is one where a games mindset combines with personal data to allow us to self-optimise and win.

The breakout from games to wider products is already happening, and some of the most successful products and leaders on the planet are using a games approach. LinkedIn, Facebook, Trip Advisor, Tinder and Fitbit are all gamified, habitual and strong examples of where the customers, and sometimes founders, have been gamified since birth.

Games are now at the core of digital success.

Forward thinking

I can only see this trend growing and developing. Games lay the groundwork for new technologies to be introduced, optimised and reinforced.

Games are the perfect digital onboarding mechanism, for both leaders and users, as well as a reference point for other products. It’s already clear that:

  • Many people are hardwired to understand, accept and respond to game approaches

  • A games mindset is at the centre of many top performing digital products

  • New technology will build on the games approach, and gamification is only likely to accelerate

Here at Play we’ve been at the forefront of this games mindset and approach for three years, when gamification was simply a buzzword and there was uncertainty behind it’s true meaning. Now, the notion is being talked about by people such as Mary Meeker and it is starting to be adopted by industry leaders.

The future is one where a games mindset combines with personal data to allow us to self-optimise and win. It’s also expected to be a future where we have a better term to describe our work and what we do but, until then, gamification can stay.


2 Responses

  1. In most of the companies,
    In most of the companies, they implement some sort of games in their workspace which helps the employees to bring a change in their mind in between the hectic work schedule. People play a different sort of games in their leisure time and enjoy the time with other employees.

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