What is gamification and how might it be useful for charities?

Gamify This! – NFP Tweetup 18, 13 March 2013. I’ve picked 10 or so tweets to summarise the evening, and added in some of my own notes.

  1. Gamification is making an activity more like a game.

    The definition of ‘game’ used here encompasses rewards, external markers of success, and (often) competition; but it also incorporates play, fun and collaboration.

  2. Gamification defined – taking something that isn’t usually a game, but applying game principles #nfptweetup
  3. Don’t just ‘gamify’ – you need a goal and to tailor towards it. Reward the behaviours you want to encourage; don’t go half-baked #nfptweetup
  4. #nfptweetup Why do gamification? For fun. To solve problems. To reward people & take advantage of competitive behaviour
  5. A recommended book on gamification (@david_whitney, on the panel, made the original recommendation):
  6. Yes a damn fine book RT @aarora17: This is the book #nfptweetup > Gamestorming:Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers+Changemakers
  7. Some examples of gamification

  8. Cancer Research UK’s Dryathalon:

    Dryathalon – Not drinking for a month, to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

    Based on 12 months of research and preparation.

    “Men are willing to support a charity as long as it is low involvement, derives personal benefit, and facilitates banter with friends.”

  9. 41% more was raised by people who signed up for the gamification, as opposed to those who only signed up for JustGiving accounts. (Aside: how much of this difference would we expect to see through normal stewardship?)

    They used the JustGiving API to grab data each day for the overall leader board.

  10. They also used data from the API to send each dryathlete an email when they hit certain fundraising targets. Participants were sent a badge signifying the milestone. Messages thanked them for their support, and told them about the cause they were contributing to. (We don’t yet know the extent to which the cause message appealed to people, or if they were just interested in the personal/competitive milestone.) Open rates for these emails were 60%.

    Impressive results, reaching a new audience. 80% of followers of the dryathalon Facebook page do not follow Cancer Research UK on any other platform.

  11. Dryathlon- I take my hat off to you. New audience of young males; £4m raised; merging the fun competition with serious messaging #nfptweetup
  12. I wonder the extent to which this could lead to longer-run behavioral change, or sustained engagement with the charity.

  13. Citizen Science

    Crowdsourcing simpler elements of scientific work. One example of citizen science is Cell Slider, also from Cancer Research UK.

    I’ve seen similar projects with protein folding – eg fold it: solve puzzles for science – and with distributed computing (although projects like World Community Grid and SETI@home don’t have an active game element to them – they’re just about donating your computer’s processing power. You do get feedback on your contribution, though.)
  14. Can take CRUK scientists up to 18 months to classify cells – open up the data & putting in a game to analyse data stream #nfptweetup
  15. Gamification doesn’t require computers

  16. An old school charity “gamification” which occurred to me is blood donor awards. Remember my nan being chuffed she got silver! #nfptweetup
  17. Some challenges faced by gamification

    How do you keep people interested in a sustainable way? @b33god cited Foursquare’s recent traffic plateau here.
    Could competitiveness demotivate some people?
    Could gamification appear crass or insensitive for some causes?

    Breakout session – Could we communicate a short public health message through gamification?

    Some ideas:

    You could have a leader board for spreading the message, and track the number of people reached by the entire campaign for a more collaborative focus.
    You could award badges for the top participants in a given time period.
    You could crowdsource content generation and rating.

    Lifestyle change seems like a good target for gamification’s incentive structures. The ability to have emotional feedback, a system for tracking progress (and required tasks?), as well as sharing with peers for support, combine nicely.

    Adding a layer of personal, tangible reward to quitting smoking sounds like a great idea, for example:
  18. “Kickit a good way of linking goals with money saved towards treating yourself to eg an iPad” #nfptweetup
  19. The power of games, rather than gamification