Sustainability's Latest Tool: Gamification

Already popular in several sectors, 'gamification' is increasingly being used to educate and engage the public around sustainability issues. Can "using fun and games for serious purposes" bring about environmental improvements?
March 11, 2013, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"A recent report by the global research company Gartner suggests that gaming with purpose increases user interaction, helps with behavioural change, and stimulates innovative thinking and the generation of new ideas," writes Dr. Paula Owen. "It is a breath of fresh air blowing into the increasingly stale world of employee engagement initiatives and environmental improvement programmes."

"At its heart, 'gamification' is the simple concept of taking the ideas behind good games design and games mechanics and applying them to non-gaming environments," she explains. "By utilising principles that make both traditional games and online social media games appealing and compelling – ie encapsulating a sense of fun, competition, achievement, gratification, improvement and rewards. Businesses are beginning to sit up and take notice of the potential of gaming."

"Although it's early days for the concept of eco-gamification, there are some early, stand-out examples of how the theories have worked in practice to engage staff and citizens in pro-environment habit shifting and behaviour change." She goes on to mention several promising examples of "gaming with purpose" involving employees in India and the UK and utility customers in the United States.

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Published on Monday, March 11, 2013 in The Guardian
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