The traditional definition of gamification “Gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts in order to engage users and solve problems.”

A more comprehensive definition, especially in the enterprise context is more like

Enterprise Gamification is a process of enhancing a service with affordances for gameful experiences in order to support user’s overall value creation which leads to entities’ value creation.
But instead of such bulky academical definitions, I prefer: Enterprise gamification makes work more fun.

~ Mario Herger (Global head of the Gamification Initiative at SAP)

In an interview with Careerbright, Mario Herger, founder of and global head of the Gamification Initiative at SAP, talks about the rise and relevance of gamification at work.

Q. How does gamification at work increase employee engagement and productivity?

Mario-HergerMario Herger:  The use of game mechanics and game design elements gives users better and timely feedback, with a clear path of how to become better. Today we do not really have feedback institutionalized in our work, neither timely, nor in a way that allows you to learn. Ask yourself the question: “When was the last time that a colleagues thanked you for something?” If you are lucky, you get feedback once a year in the performance review. But this is a feedback on work that you have done months ago.

How fun do you think would it be if you knew only three months later that you killed the pigs in Angry Bird? And you’d never remember what the right angle with the slingshot was, so you are not becoming better.


Q. Are there some stats that show that social learning can improve learning and motivate employees at work?


Mario Herger:  Every community in fact is a social learning environment. Well run communities with engaged users add tremendous value for everyone involved: for the users, employees and the organizations. On my website I collect a list of statistics on how gamification improved metrics. The list currently contains over 60 examples from a variety of use cases.


When you look through the data you will see that all good communities that added gamification to the engagement model experienced significant boosts in their metrics.
To look at the opposite effect in learning environments, author and scholar Karl M. Kapp quotes in his book “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction” a number of research papers that studied the effect of competition in learning environments. Competition is something that works well when the players are already good at things, then it helps to improve performance for a certain category of players. But when people are still learning, then competition is something that impedes the learning process, and people – especially when they are losing – see themselves and their teammates much more critical, in a negative way.


Q. What are the trends in corporate gamification? What future do you perceive for a ‘gamified workplace’?


Mario Herger:  The biggest trend of using gamification in the corporate world is in education and training, and in the use for communities. Beside marketing which has been driving gamification in the past years, these fields are the ones that get most attention, mostly because there are so many successful implementations available, that it becomes pretty easy to decide to go with that. And both areas also allow to test it with an internal audience, before you use it with customers.


But recently I see a lot of more conservative areas where gamification is applied. From financial services for treasurers and liquidity managers to maintenance and support, and finally the holy grail of sales. Latter one allows a direct connection to ROI, and there has been a lot of discussion around sales commissions and how appropriate they really are.



Q. We also hear that you are close to finishing your new book on gamification. We’d love to have a sneak peak on what we can learn about enterprise gamification through this book.


Mario Herger: My new book “Enterprise Gamification: Exploiting Users by Letting Them Have Fun” is scheduled for April 2013 (will be available on Amazon) and it is aimed at gamification designers, who are gamifying processes and applications in their organizations and need to know how to do it. There are some pitfalls in organizations that gamification designers need to be aware of, starting from legal and ethical considerations, to the question whether competition is right. But also how we can make sure that we are not increasing the gender gap in companies by overly using game styles that men prefer. The 500 page book also has over 200 gamification examples that shall inspire the reader and contains a compendium of current technologies and platforms that readers can chose from.


And did I mention Angry Birds? The cover is with an Angry Bird motive, made by an Austrian cartoonist friend of mine, and why I use Angry Birds readers will understand from the book…


Our best wishes on this upcoming book, Mario – the gamified workplace waits eagerly to learn and play along!