Al Gore promotes the “Green” side of gamification
Can games fix a “broken” world? Al Gore, Jane McGonigal, and a growing group of cause marketers say yes. Gamification, applying behavior-motivating techniques from traditional and social games, works very well to drive business objectives such as sales and other conversions. It also successfully drives people to better themselves and the world around them.
The message of using game mechanics and techniques for good is one preached by world-renowned game designer and “Reality is Broken” author Jane McGonigal of 2010 TED fame, and that message is fast spreading across organizations with missions to help make the world a better place.
At the 2011 Games for Change Festival at New York University this week, former Vice president Al Gore addressed an audience of game designers and developers, highlighting his excitement for the power of games and game mechanics to address the climate crisis.
“The gamification trend is really, extremely powerful,” said Gore. “This is a very large, extremely significant industry, with a radically diverse and growing audience of players on all kinds of platforms. Games are the new â€˜normalâ€™ for hundreds of millions of users every month. It has been very exciting to me to see so many ideas that integrate social good and efforts to make the world a better place into games.”
Gore isn’t alone in seeing the benefit of gamification to help reduce pollution and promote environmentally-friendly behaviors. Christine Hertzog, a consultant, author, and educator focused on Smart Grid technologies and solutions, hosted a webinar this week to discuss ways SmartGrid companies can use gamification to promote programs that require customer interaction.
“Gamification is called the next big thing for marketing,” she writes. “Gamification incorporates various game mechanics like achievements, points, status, and behavioral momentum into existing communication channels to engage and educate target audiences. It’s a great tool for utilities and Smart Grid vendors to use with residential consumers to communicate complex concepts around energy efficiency, demand response, integration of distributed generation and new pricing programs.
Also released this week, a new report from Recyclebank, ROI Research and Google reveals that people are motivated by games, showing that online social games can actually have a positive impact on a personâ€™s offline behavior. When the game or contest is eco-focused, then the personâ€™s eco-conscious behaviors increase.
The data for the report, Using Games for Good: Motivating a Shift in Consumer Behavior with Social Gaming (PDF), was collected during Recyclebankâ€™s Green Your Home Challenge. The challenge, which was held during the month of April, used gaming techniques to encourage contestant participation. The process is known as gamification and it worked â€” almost 49,000 people participated in the challenge.
Highlights from the report include:
- 97 percent of participants said the game increased their knowledge of environmental issues
- 54 percent of existing Recyclebank users said they are either very or extremely likely to take eco-positive actions based on their game experiences
Green actions by participants increased over the challenge period
- 86 percent of participants said that games and contests are a good way to educate the public
McGonigal has said that â€œa game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.â€ Buster Benson, founder of Health Month, and previous creator of 43Things, 750Words, and Locavore, has recently said, “Iâ€™m really only interested in the portion of the conversation that’s about helping people and empower them to do what they already want to do.” Benson says that gamification comes in and removes the â€˜unnecessaryâ€™ part. “Weâ€™re no longer only trying to overcome obstacles merely because we want to, or because itâ€™s fun, but weâ€™re also trying to overcome real obstacles: (such as) how to be healthier and how to learn.”