Understanding and Implementing Gamification: Part 4

Examining Specific Scenarios for the Print Industry



Colin McMahon


Whether you are an office equipment dealer, production level printer, or some other type of print service provider, gamification has the power to impact your business on multiple levels every day. Gamification—or the use of game design mechanics outside the gaming space—is seeing increasing evidence that it is one of the more powerful business development strategies in the 21st century. As part of our commitment to provide useful service and tips to our clients, Keypoint Intelligence presents this ongoing series on gamification, diving into some of its numerous aspects in the hopes of turning this abstract concept into actionable strategy.


Get Caught Up

Part 1: What Is Gamification and Why Does It Matter?

Part 2: Epic Meaning and Calling People to Action

Part 3: Revealing and Ratifying the Misconceptions Surrounding Gamification


In our fourth and final blog entry on gamification, we will take a closer look into exactly how adding game design elements to certain elements of the print industry can lead to results. We will outline a few strategies and provide some examples to help crystalize the more abstract ideas that we’ve been discussing in the first three blog posts. Rest assured, at no point in this article will we say “just give your employees/clients/customers a badge for their participation and call it a day.”


That said, before we dive into specifics, there is one final myth to clarify—and it is the falsehood that print is too serious an industry for gamification.


Is Print “Fun” Enough for Gamification

There is a belief, likely stemming for the word itself, that gamification must be associated with other words, such as “fun” and “young” and “hip.” That only certain concepts work with gamification—ones that are innately associated with entertainment. This is false.


While it is true that it is easier to make certain products (let’s say a mountain bike) sound fun to the average consumer, gamification is not limited to these verticals. Anything can be made fun; certain products just take more creativity. For an example, let’s look at Blendtec. If you followed the link, you will see that Blendtec, like its name suggests, makes blenders for food and beverages. Hardly what would be called exciting stuff.


Then everything changed with this video:



The “Will it Blend?” marketing campaign went viral, getting millions of views and helping to take Blendtec from a small American manufacturer to a company with strong international presence. Millions of people have voluntarily watched these videos. Why? Not because they talk about how scientifically superior their product is, but because they made blending fun.


This is a case of external gamification done right, looking at how the technology could be applied—not just to food but other, less logical items. The result is one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns in history.


Popular fast food chain McDonalds turned its eating experience into a collectable game.
Image Source: Survey Anyplace


Examining External Gamification Strategies in Print

For the purposes of this article, external gamification refers to gamification strategies and techniques applied outward or to consumer-facing aspects of business. Marketing and advertising, for instance, are external operations.


When looking at how gamification can change printing, one question must first be asked: “How can my product—whether I’m an OEM, vendor, or print service provider—be made fun?” Fun is a powerful thing; not only is it entertaining, but it greatly simplifies. For instance, those Blendtec videos don’t need to say how strong their blenders are. The viewer gets it simply be watching.


I have noticed that many print OEMs (in communication to their clients) often state how many colors they can do (vendors and print service providers tend to repeat this terminology, as well). The terms CMYK and CMYK+ are not uncommon, and to those already familiar with the industry, they have meaning. But what about to those clients who aren’t already familiar? Say CMYK to a tech startup that’s looking to bring in some printers and MFPs and they will likely just stare at you blankly until you explain what exactly that jargon means.


If, however, the OEM lead with a campaign like “Think of the most colorful image in the world. We can print it.” And showed off these amazing, beautiful images – whether famous paintings or vivid nature photos – being print from their machine, they would not have to explain CMYK+ to any client. The understanding of the capacity would already be there, as would a flourish of imaginative wonder.


Playing games is all about having fun and having fun means wanting to engage, even when you (the user) don’t have to. Print companies hoping to understand gamification on its simplest levels should stop focusing on specs and start focusing on “why would people want to use this?” when developing their communication strategies.


Examining Internal Gamification Strategies in Print

As external gamification referred to areas of the business the customer interacted with, internal gamification can be applied to the sectors they never see: the inner workings of every company, such as research, HR, and testing. Employees in these areas don’t usually talk to consumers, at least not as representatives of where they work.


Colleagues here don’t get the exhilaration of seeing a sale go through or watching their marketing campaign take off. While they keep the company running, they can be overlooked by some since their accomplishments largely preserve the status quo.


In short: these are people who could likely benefit from having their work made more enjoyable and more engaging. That said, gamification implementation should be treated carefully here. The wrong kind of program—such as any that put employees into competition with one another—can foster some healthy gameplay but, if given too much importance (such as the winner receives bonus pay/vacation time), can lead to resentment and break up workplace unity.


Those looking to use gamification internally must first evaluate their players (the staff) to see where their morale is, then form concrete objectives like improving teamwork and leading to better productivity. Every single exercise must then adhere to this goal. If even one “reward the individual” exercise is used in a program designed to better the group, it may jeopardize the overall effectiveness.


Source: Interact Intranet


In the print industry, there are many internal processes that can be gamified. Safety regulations, harassment training, inter-office communications, and data security are all areas where employees need knowledge—and that knowledge can come in the form of a mandatory three-hour lecture or in activities designed to engage while they teach. Guess which is more effective?


Gamification is an incredibly in-depth field that we’ve only scratched the surface on. We hope this series has answered some of your basic questions regarding the topic. Rest assured, there is still so much (such as player type, game stages, and intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation) that can still be learned.


For those curious for more information on how gamification can improve their business, we recommend reaching out to us at Keypoint Intelligence. We’re happy to consult on your gamification strategy and provide more customized tips and guides, as well as ideas for implementation.