Zombies! Run! – Gamification and what it can do for us…

With yesterday’s release of ‘Zombies! Run’ I thought it’d be a good idea to have a look at ‘gamification’. Just what is it? Does it work and where has it been used? Click on.

Gamification is all about making a game out of the mundane. XP points for washing up, unlocking a new map for lifting heavier weights in the gym or getting a high score for running to and from the shops.

The idea is to add an extra layer onto an existing task. To reward you for doing something well, consistently, quickly, to a deadline, etc. Importantly, these rewards are shared and broadcast to like-minded people. This sense of competition only further drives the ‘player’ to get a better score. Even if getting a better score means tidying up their room or buying another Big Mac.

This stuff is everywhere for nearly everything. Forums display post counts and give titles to those that post the most. Badges are awarded for certain actions also, all with the aim to promote activity and create a livelier forum. WordPress is also doing the whole gamification thing as well. Each time you post, you’re one step closer to getting a new title. Again, promoting activity.

Some people will argue that it’s a false incentive, suggesting that money is already the gamification of life. This is far too simplistic for my liking. Some people want more than money, they want recognition in a more accessible manner. It’s easier to earn 100k Gamer Score than it is to have a 100k job. As a result, these ‘gamey’ notions are much more prevalent in society, especially with younger people who’ve grown up with games since day 1. Sometimes I feel like I should start assigning XP values to the homework I set my students, as this is all they know. Do something, level up. Create something, get comments and ‘likes’. Attending an event earns you a custom title. Whatever.

Brining me back to the main catalyst for today’s post. Zombies! Run! is an iPhone app that presents a story to you based on the idea of being a survivor of a zombie apocalypse. Wait! don’t go! This one’s different!

The game revolves around you needing to meet running milestones to unlock the next chapter, to find some water for your safe house, to go and rescue a child, etc. This extra layer of story provides the boost to one’s will power to put on those running shoes on a rainy Wednesday morning. I’ve yet to get a real amount of time with it (it only came out yesterday!) but I’ll be sure to keep you informed of my time with it and of the marathon ready body I’m sculpting. *Ahem*

In the end, anything that promotes people to be creative or rewards them for doing their chores is a winner. Sometimes we need that little push, that pat on the back, the smiley face sticker or someone telling me that the pain of running in the cold has ‘saved someone’ from a zombie attack.

Well done you on reading this post. +10 RWR points.

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