SXSWi Report – Gameification

Jack Blog

March 25th, 2011 By Jack Morton

Last week I was one of the 17,000 lucky geeks to attend SXSWi in Austin, Texas.  I’ll be blogging my observations from the event in a multi-part series on the JackBlog, and I hope you follow along!  Today’s topic: Gaming everything – the gameification of life from the Internet to your refrigerator.

Gaming, gameification, adding points, badges and more was a super hot topic last week at SXSW.  Between experiencing games ourselves by checking in and being rewarded with points and badges or visiting any of the many, daily sessions about the topic, attendees were inundated with the idea of gaming every intercation in life.  Most of the sessions about gameification lauded the upsides of the technique, talking about the value of getting people involved with rewards-based systems (points and badges) that may or may not mean anything at all in real life.  Even at SXSW, attendees could monitor news about the most-talked about start-ups on a game-like leaderboard.


Several sessions presented evidence that playing games makes you a smarter, savvier, more networked person, though statistics varied based on the specific definition of ‘game’ and the measures used to decide how brilliant you might become from playing Angry Birds.  The best ideas with the most evidence for benefit (to the player AND the company ROI) involved rewarding people for participating, combined with providing easy ways to connect with others.  Rewards don’t have to be tangible as long as they are interesting and give the player bragging rights, and corporate sponsorship/creation is acceptable as long as ads are kept to a minimum and the context of the game makes sense with the product/service sold.

The real question seems to be where people will play.  So many of these games require a new platform, a new login, and an attempt to create a new ‘community’ around playing the game. All of that takes time and effort, both by the developers and by the players, so the trend seems to be to use existing platforms like Facebook.  The big question, though, is at what point do we see player fatigue with the Farmvilles of the world, and invent some other form to consolidate all of these rewards?  Maybe we will see that brilliant new idea at SXSWi 2012… stay tuned!