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We list 10 emerging trends for 2020 to give you insight on the latest developments in  gamification. Where is gamification headed next?

It was Gartner who predicted that “by 2014, 80% of organisations will have gamified at least one area of their business”. They also predicted that a very large portion of those will fail due to improper implementation and a lack of understanding of what true gamification is – this has of course come true.

Many organisations have simply slapped some points, badges and leader boards on to existing systems and called it gamification, in the hope that it will stimulate engagement and motivation. As those efforts have fallen by the wayside, the gamification market has matured and shifted to find application in new and sometimes unexpected places.

Let’s look at some of the trends that have emerged so far.

1. Gamification is maturing

The initial hype has died down and gamification implementers have a much better handle on what works in certain situations and what doesn’t. Much of the skills have been acquired through trial and error, but now that the errors have been made (most of them hopefully) proper and effective gamification techniques can be applied.

2. Thanks to mobile learning and micro-learning, uptake and adoption have increased dramatically     

More and more people are using their smartphones to interface with things like learning platforms and lessons are becoming shorter and shorter, reduced to bite-sized chunks that can be consumed at any given moment. This is true micro-learning. Also, according to Mobile Marketer, 70% of US consumers will own a smartphone by the end of 2019, so you can expect a massive uptick in adoption and usage in North America alone. As is typical, the rest of the world will probably follow suit.

3. There is an ever-wider range for application

Success breeds success. With more and more successful applications of gamification techniques, gamification is being experimented with in various ways. It’s all about learning what works and how to apply that knowledge to new situations.

4. Gamification strategies are being used to address corporate training needs

Many successful applications of gamification now showcase how effectively it has been implemented across various corporate training initiatives, like induction and on-boarding, sales and leadership, and professional skills and compliance training. You can expect this list to grow and grow.

For more on e-learning in business, see  Recognising the benefits of gamification elements in e-learning

5. Next generation gamification techniques are on the horizon

Again, the maturation of gamification has produced a stable substrate which will spawn the next generation of gamification techniques. We’ve already mentioned micro-learning, but also consider things like social learning-based gamification where social interaction with other participants drives the engagement. There is also the burgeoning technology of augmented and virtual reality, the surface of which has barely been scratched.

6. Technology is converging and being integrated with social media

According to Gallup, 71% of the generation that has just entered the workforce feels disengaged at work. Small businesses are keeping their young workforce engaged by integrating gamification with mobile apps and social media, making their gamified programs even more effective.

7. Gamification is becoming personalised

The future looks bright for gamification, thanks to tremendous advances in machine learning and AI. Stakeholders are doing their level best to provide a personalised gamified experience. The race is on to create the best algorithms that will accurately predict which gamification technique or design to serve up next, to deliver that all important personalised experience.

8. A data-driven approach can easily demonstrate ROI

It’s decidedly easier to demonstrate the ROI and longevity of gamification within an organisation by critically analysing usage data and interactions with gamification elements and techniques.

It’s all about actionable information tracking and finding meaningful data to help fine tune campaigns. Fortunately, these days it’s easy to track things like frequency and duration of play, increase in performance, and number of players.

9. Gamification expanding in new territories

Gamification has been a solid feature in the marketing, corporate learning and training landscape, but it’s gradually encroaching into new territories. Civic and political organisations focused on changing or establishing certain behaviour are eyeing gamification in a new light. While initially hesitant, thanks to market maturation, more and more ‘serious’ endeavours are adopting gamification practices and techniques.

For more on gamification in ‘serious’ pursuits see  Gamification for change: Part -1 A brave new world

10. Empathy mapping is a new design trend

Today’s sophisticated market is leery of anything that comes across as being manipulative or wresting control from the individual. Gamification implementers should be cautious. Ultimately, the emotional experience provided by game mechanics is paramount to users, and technically great game design won’t be entirely sufficient for a modern audience – they want ‘the feels’. Consequently, empathetic design is a trending concept and it’s elevating the objectives of gamification to create a truly meaningful experience.

An empathy map will help you understand your user’s needs while you develop a deeper understanding of the person you are designing for. In other words, to create gamification that achieves a positive change in behaviour, you must bring emotions into play. Focus on intrinsic rewards (the feelings) not just extrinsic rewards (the tangibles).

The future

It’s impossible to say which of these trends will persist, which will vanish, and which will morph into something else entirely. Gamification has come a long way and still has a way to go – like a fine wine, it is maturing nicely. We hope you’ve found inspiration in these emerging trends to guide your gamification strategies. New year, new game. Let’s start!