Gabe Zichermann on Gamification at TEDxKids@Brussels (Full Transcript)

And a simple definition of gamification is it’s the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems. Part of the reason why gamification has become such an emerging topic right now is because Generation G’s effect on culture and society already. Their expectations are different. Some examples of gamification that you may have seen, that are really fascinating me, are the emergence of in-dash games in cars. Today, if you buy a hybrid or electric plug in an electric vehicle, you’ll almost certainly see the product of hundred million dollars worth of tooling and research and development, in the form of Tamagotchi style game, in a dashboard designed to make you a more ecological driver. It is a simple, sort of, most of the game mechanics are very simple. A plant grows as you drive more ecologically, and withers if you don’t, like those virtual pets Tamagotchi. This is an example of gamification at work.

Another really interesting example is a thing called Speed Camera Lottery, designed by Kevin Richardson, based in San Francisco, works for MTV. Awesome guy. And this is the concept in speed camera lottery. You know those speeding cameras that you passed by. It takes your picture and sends you a ticket. So in many Scandinavian countries, the ticket that you get is actually based not on how fast you were going, but how much money you make. So, the more you make, the bigger the ticket.

So Kevin re-engineered a speeding camera in Sweden, that instead of just giving tickets to people who drive over the speed limit that pass the camera, anybody who drives under the limit is entered into a lottery to win the proceeds of the people who speed. It is game thinking, that term I’ve described earlier, the core foundation of gamification, it is game thinking, in its purest and most beautiful form, takes a big negative reinforcement loop, and turns it into small incremental positive reinforcement loop. It had the effect of dropping speed by over 20% at that point of intervention.

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Corporations have also become aware of the trend of gamification, the effect of games on people, like Generation G. Gartner Group says that, by 2015, 70% of all global 2000, the biggest companies in the world, will be actively using gamification. And 50% of their process of innovation will be gamified, which is an astonishing, astonishing thing. It’s a huge change.

And what this all points to is that future looks pretty different from the world that we live in today. Generation G, and those driving the gamification moving forward, are advocating for a different world. It’s a world in which things move at a faster pace than it did for you and me. It’s a world in which there’re rewards everywhere, for actions that people take. The rewards don’t always have to be cash rewards. They can be meaningful status rewards, meaningful access rewards, meaningful powerful power rewards. A world in which there’s extensive collaborative play. This is one of the things that Generation G does so much differently than even my generation.

I mean I remember going to school, and teachers struggling to come up with exercises that we could do as a team that would be graded as a team. Right? In the end, those group exercises were always broken down to individual scores, which distorted the way that people behaved. But, Generation G plays a lot of games that are purely collaborative, in which there is group value. And this will also affect our world in an untold ways.

And Generation G, the fun future, is a much more global world. It turns out that we are already out of touch. We are the generation most out of touch with our future or current children than any generation in history. We like to think that baby boomers’ parents were the most out of touch people, right in the world. They’re the ones who had to deal with the like summer of love, sex and drugs, and other kind of stuff. We still make phone calls. I mean, we are the ones with the problems.

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And we are going to be the most out of touch generation in history. Of course, it’s also true, and I’m here to tell you, I will be the one to tell you, the kids are all right. They’re going to be just fine. And we don’t need to worry, strictly speaking, about kids and games, and the effect it’ll have on the world. And not just are the kids going to be all right, frankly, the kids are going to be awesome. But it’s going to take your help to make the kids awesome. And I have a prescription for you. This is the best prescription anybody is ever going to write in your life. But I’m going to write it for you right now, in your mind, I don’t have an actual pad. Just for clarity, a disclaimer, I’m not actually a doctor.

So I am going to, however, write a prescription for you all. And this is the prescription that if you have children, or you work with children, or you desire to work with children, or you want to change the world, this is the absolute positive best thing that you can do with your time from now until I see you in the retirement home on the coast of Spain, or in the virtual world, wherever you choose to retire. Which is get into the game with your kids. Stop fighting the game trend, if that’s where you are right now. Don’t fight the game trend. Become one with the game. Enter the game. Understand it. Understand the dynamics of how your children play the games that they play. Understand how their minds work from the context of the game outward, rather than from the world outside inward.

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