Gamification - you may have seen this trendy term buzzing on social media or in business publications. It's not just a passing fad, however, as gamification is an exciting and dynamic field that is transforming processes in a diverse range of industries. As such, it's also been incorporated into many graduate courses and career paths.
Let's take a closer look at what gamification is and how it relates to graduate school study as well as career options:
What is gamification? The Harvard Business Review defines gamification as "the application of game design principles to change behavior in non-gaming contexts." Gamification can be effective because it capitalizes on people's inherent desire to collect points, advance levels and win. By turning regular business processes into games, organizations can improve employee engagement, affect consumer spending and achieve other positive outcomes.
What are examples of gamification? There are many different ways gamification can be used in business settings. In the simplest sense, awarding employees gold stars each time they meet their sales goals and then enabling them to cash in their stars for an extra break or additional PTO time can be considered gamification. However, game principles can be applied in even more nuanced ways to enhance business results. Software firms have sprouted up to design gamification platforms and apps that can help companies implement the principles for their own workers or customers.
Here are some real-world examples of gamification in action:
"Psych": Television's USA Network wanted to expand the audience of its show "Psych," as well as increase engagement with the program. The network ultimately created a loyalty program that incentivized viewers to earn points by interacting with content on social media and enabled them to redeem points for merchandise. As a result of the initiative, the network experienced a 40 percent increase in viewership and a 47 percent increase in online merchandise sales.
Bluewolf: Bluewolf, a global business consulting firm and IBM company, wanted to boost collaboration among its employees. It created a program where employees earned points for internal and external collaboration by sharing content on its intranet and replying to other employees' posts, MyCustomer explained. The company saw a significant rise in internal communication and employee productivity as a result.
U.S. Army: To increase recruitment, the U.S. Army developed a first-person virtual game called America's Army that simulates being in the military. As a result of the game and the press it received, 30 percent of Americans ages 16 to 24 had a more positive impression toward the army, according to gamification author and developer Yu-kai Chou. The game also recruited more people than all other marketing methods combined while costing just a fraction of the cost.
Studying gamification in graduate school As gamification is increasingly influencing business and consumer activities in more complex ways, the field has become an area of study in many graduate school programs.
Students may also take courses on gamification, or, more commonly, cover gamification as part of other classes. With its broad scope, they may learn about gamification in a diverse array of courses, including web design, media, software development, communication, business, economics, psychology, marketing and behavioral science.
"Gamification has become an area of study in many graduate school programs."
For example, the University of Utah offers the advanced degree program "Master Games Studio" that is taught in collaboration between the Department of Film & Media Arts and the School of Computing. The master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs also has an option in Media Convergence Games & Media Integration, while New York University has an M.S. in Games for Learning. Michigan State University also offers an M.A. certificate in Games & Meaningful Play that is geared toward students with an interest in gamification.
As the University of California, Davis noted, "Game studies has emerged over the last few years as a preeminent sector of the digital humanities."
The school details how its digital humanities research center focuses on four interconnected programs: Gaming Culture, Gaming Art, Gaming Health and Gaming Science. Its dedication to exploring the discipline shows how gamification is increasingly being examined in academic contexts. It is not a siloed area of study, but one that is highly interdisciplinary by nature.
Career options in gamification Exciting job opportunities are available for individuals interested in careers working with gamification principles and methods. Companies of all types are hiring for individuals with game development and application skills. Some sample job titles that relate to gamification are product managers, data and analytics engineers, software/app developers and gamification strategists. While many of these roles require technical web development skills, there are also marketing, project management, sales, graphic design and human resources positions that also support the design and implementation of gamification programs at organizations. As gamification is an evolving field, there are also many opportunities for individuals to study gamification in an academic environment, particularly as it relates to the disciplines of behavior science, organizational psychology and education.
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