April 1, 2011

Socially Responsible Gamification

How do we use this basic kind of gamification to encourage people to commit to socially beneficial programs though? Well, beer stores already kind of do this. Taking your liquor bottles in to get recycled nets you a small return in cash, which is just pennies back to the consumer on a return worth dollars to the establishment. What if it worked that way with soda cans? Grocery stores could dole out some spare change in return for people bringing back their emptied case of Coke or Pepsi products. Heck, considering how simple it is, I’m sure some places actually do it, but as far as I know, it’s not that widespread.

Then, what happens after that? Well, it can’t just stop at pocket change. That’s not proper gamification. What if we applied it to reward programs at grocery stores? The infrastructure already exists, and it’s not hard to add a new feature. Make it worthwhile to frequent recyclers. Give them a return on their grocery bill for good behaviour, or give out freebies for racking up points. It’s easy to budget for, and it can be beneficial to all parties if the right deals are made. No one ever said that environmentalism and making a profit had to be separate, and ideas like gamification can help marry them.

I’m all for gamification, as long as it’s used for social development, and not to hawk needless, useless product. I’m sure that’s inevitable and will exist for a period of time, but with how much progress we as a species have made in the last century, I’m also certain we can rise above that.

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  1. Sara

    You also see stuff like this with viral marketing. Essentially, viral marketing campaigns are tangential learning at its best:

    You see a surreal ad, a URL flashing inconspicuously at the end. This takes you to a website filled with textual clues to seemingly random philosophical documents and images that reference some period of the past. But… what does it all mean? First, you type one of the quotes into Google, which leads you to a link on Wikipedia. The wiki article is a book you remember reading in college — a book you still have stored away in your closet somewhere. It takes you about a half hour to find it, and when you do, its nuzzled next to your old art history textbook. While flipping through that textbook, you recognize some of the art pieces shown on the website. Finally, some pieces of the puzzle, but how do they relate? The search continues…

    Now, what if we were to use methods like this to encourage learning in schools; essentially sending the kids on a treasure hunt for knowledge? Studies show that people are more inclined to learn knowledge when they are introduced to a concept, rather than slapped in the face with it. So, why not? Sounds like a hell of a lesson plan. :D

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