To the Point

Get in the Game

Gamification in the business world is much more than child’s play.

Raise your hand if you consider yourself a gamer. Now, raise your hand if you like to learn new things in fun ways. How about instant feedback on how you’re doing? Connecting with people over similar interests? To be rewarded for hard work and loyalty? I’m thinking every hand should be in the air.

Which is why the growing popularity of gamification in the business world makes sense. Loosely defined as the use of game-design techniques and game mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences, gamification can do all of the above in authentic and real-time ways.

Last year, Gartner Research predicted that at least 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations (the world’s largest businesses) will have at least one gamified application by 2014. Thanks to technological advances that make such games fast and super-engaging, companies in all different sectors are starting to get on board – and their results are significant enough to make the rest of us take notice.

In the meetings industry, gamification has been considered mostly as it relates to using games to boost engagement at face-to-face meetings. However, the possibilities are endless for recruiting, productivity, education, marketing, and more. Experts – and real-life examples – tell us that using gaming principles has the potential to improve sales and build brands, and to motivate members, customers, and employees.

Take Not Your Average Joe’s restaurants – a regional restaurant group operating in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia – whose gamification initiative has improved server productivity. Computerized interfaces now let waitstaff know how they’re doing, shift by shift, compared with other coworkers when it comes to selling special dishes and earning tips. As a result, employees have been eager to improve, especially when they can earn rewards – such as getting to work the best shifts – for high performance.

There’s also Avivia Healthcare, which launched a game to help its members get healthier, while reducing medical costs. Individual members create avatars with information about what they like to eat and what kind of exercise they get, and the game steers them in the direction of healthier choices and solutions. Avivia says this application has been much more effective in influencing real-life behavior than other efforts.

Think of your biggest business challenge. Are there ways you can apply the creativity and tools of a game designer to meet your goals? Be creative and keep an open mind. You might also want to check out a recent white paper from Deloitte ( on tips for getting started and pitfalls to avoid.

It could be that something that at first sounds like child’s play (or appealing only to a niche adult audience) is actually universally captivating and effective in reaching our goals.

Gamification 2.0

It was General Session speaker Sally Hogshead who piqued our interest in gaming at PCMA Convening Leaders 2012. At Convening Leaders 2013, Jan.13–16 in Orlando, we’ll be taking gamification to the next level by enabling participants to experience a face-to-face meeting game. It’s not too late to join us. Go to to register today. 

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.