How Gamification motivates the masses
What’s new about gamification? Organizations have borrowed elements such as points and badges from games and used them to motivate people for a long time. Weight Watchers, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and military organizations have been using this approach to motivate people for a half century, a century and millennia (respectively). Of course in those days, engagement was limited to the physical world. What’s new about gamification is that by means of a digital engagement model, motivation can be packaged into an app or device and scaled to engage an audience of any size at a very low incremental cost.
But not all companies are making the leap. As is often the case, some old guard companies will be blindsided by the transition to digitally delivered motivation. Others will stumble in their attempts to transition from what works in the physical space to the digital arena.
Weight Watchers provides a case in point. The popular weight loss program has historically relied on meetings to engage its more than 1 million members. But meetings are resource-intensive, requiring Weight Watchers to employ 56,000 people. In contrast, MyFitnessPal uses a digital engagement model to help people lose weight and exercise, and it supports 50 million users with approximately 75 employees. That’s the power of digital business. With a costly physical engagement model, Weight Watchers has struggled. Over the past two years, its meeting revenues have been declining along with its share price, and the CEO departed. Among other factors, the company blames its poor performance on “increased competition from Internet, free mobile and other weight management applications, activity monitors and other electronic weight management approaches.”
Gamifying Global Youth Events
On the other hand, Craig and Marc Kielburger, founders of Free the Children, took a massive physical gathering and used gamification to extend engagement over time. The brothers’ mission is to inspire youth to act for global change. They created We Day, a series of events designed to “empower and enable youth to be agents of change.” We Day events, held in nine cities in Canada and three in the United States, bring together tens of thousands of youth in a stadium for a day of education, engagement, and inspiring speeches and performance focused on critical local and global issues.
While these massive events have become powerful opportunities to engage and inspire youth, the Kielburgers wanted to extend their mission even further. As Craig Kielburger explained, “Now the challenge, of course, is that We Day is one day. Our dream is to take that spirit and feeling of connectivity and empowerment and education that we see at We Day, and make it something that is far more constant in your life, and far more empowering — because you can connect on a daily basis with that energy and live that same spirit 365 days a year.”