History of Game-Like Experiences

You may have heard of Nike + Run Club or My Starbucks Rewards. Experiences where you either exercise for digital badges and rewards or you get customer loyalty points for your next free cup of coffee!

Now, most of you may be confused as to what in the hell are game-like experiences?

To help you understand I need you to imagine.

Imagine you’re trying to teach or train someone. You’d try different techniques. It’s a long tiring process that would take you a couple of hours and would probably leave you with a headache that would stay with you throughout the day!

So, how do you make the entire process convenient?

The answer is Google… lol just kidding.

The REAL answer is with the use of game-like experiences or Gamification! *wait, whaaaaa…*

How did it come to be…?

Where did this come from? Who did this? Whose FAULT is it!?

(Yessss, let the hate flow through you *continues to laugh like Palpatine*)

Game-like experiences can be traced back to the 1900s!

History lesson for you laddie’!

In 1910 when the boy scouts were founded, game-like experiences were also introduced.

The badges that were awarded to the members to recognize their achievements are somewhat similar to what most video-games have nowadays.

Take the Pokemon gym badges for example!

We all wanted to collect them and after you beat a gym leader in the game and got one, it filled you with this sense of pride!

Over the years, Game-like experiences have evolved so much that it’s now being used for educational and business purposes!

Business companies are using Game-like experiences to further enhance the image of their product and garner more revenue.

Take M&M’s Eye-Spy Pretzel Campaign, for example – They used game-like experiences and social media as their market strategy to promote their new M&M Pretzel Flavor! It was a very simple campaign!

All the company had to do was post an image on Facebook and ask their followers to find the hidden pretzel amongst all the other M&M candies! The entire campaign was a success!

Another example of companies using game-like experiences for their promotion and revenue is adding rewards to their app! ‘My Starbucks Rewards’, and ‘Careem Loyalty Program Points’.

Companies award a number of points to their customers who purchase or use their products/ services regularly. The customers can then exchange these points for free items or services!

It increases customer engagement and ensures repeat business!

*Siiiiigh*…. I’m gonna be honest with you.

Even while writing this article I can’t help but minimize this tab and play ‘Slay the Spire’. I got some people frowning at me for playing a game after I’ve worked for a good couple of seconds!

You see what people need to understand is that being allowed to play games is actually beneficial for employees!

And I have a lot of history to back me up 😀

In 1973 Charles A Coonradt wrote a book titled ‘The Game of Work’. In this book, he talks about the fall of productivity in the US. He makes his point by pointing out that productivity was failing as sales of recreation and sports equipment was rising.

What did Coonradt suggest afterward? Well, he suggested that fun and games, after all, might be the answer to the problem of keeping the employee’s engagement.

Now, we all remember when we were kids and our parents used to shout at us ‘STOP PLAYING GAMES! Go do your homework’ and let’s be honest we never really put in any effort in doing our homework, because we always wanted to go back to playing games as soon as we could.

You see, in 1982 people were flabbergasted at the capability of computer games to increase user engagement.

Suddenly, articles were appearing exploring the possible uses of this phenomenon. Educational institutes started using games to keep kids motivated about their work.

Games. They used GAMES to keep kids motivated.


Ahem… Anyway…

In the 21st Century, Game-Like Experiences are being used by people in offices and in their homes!

The term ‘Gamification’ was first introduced in 2002 by a dude named Nick Pelling. But it was only able to hit mainstream media until 2009!

Also in 2002, America’s Army (a game like Call of Duty) was released, it was dubbed by the U.S. Army as a ‘cost-effective recruitment tool’.Americas army, combat experiences

In 2005, Xbox 360 introduced its Gamerscore! Which standardized in-game achievements!

And then in 2008, Sony began offering trophies for PlayStation 3!

Oh and during the Social Gaming Summit, Bret Terrill, in a blog article documented his time there and used the term ‘Gamification’ for the first time!

Then in 2010! Jane McGonigal delivered a ground-breaking speech that shook the world as she won the hearts of every gamer around the globe!

She delivered these legendary lines –

“When I look forward to the next decade, I know two things for sure: that we can make any future we can imagine, and we can play any games we want, so I say: Let the world-changing games being”

In 2011, Game-Like Experiences EXPLODED!!

Jane McGonigal’s book, ‘Reality is Broken’ was officially released at the Gsummit, Apple added achievements to Game Center…

And In the incoming year’s tons of achievements are made in Game-Like Experiences!

Naomi Alderman released a game ‘Zombies, Run!’, which was a fitness app that would turn a normal looking park into a Zombie Escape Game!

‘You’d better run, boy. And fast!’

After that, for a couple of years, Game-Like Experiences had its ups and downs… people thought it was dead…that it’d never come back… but they were wrong!

For in 2016! Game-Like Experiences TOOK OVER THE WORLD with Pokemon Go!

And In 2018, Game-like experiences were being used almost everywhere –

Exercising apps, To-do lists, HR, job applications, wildlife spotting, cafes, restaurants, Offices, Schools, YOU NAME IT!

Then in 2019, we witnessed history… Something that changed many people’s perception of the gaming industry – The Gaming Industry hit $152.1 Billion in 2019!

Yesssss, That’s how much the entire industry has grown! It’s bigger than the entire movie industry!

Now let’s wait and see what 2020 has in store for us 😀