When thinking of gamification and its possible uses, the first concept your mind jumps to probably isn’t the government. What with different political scandals as well as everyday governmental issues, it’s hard to imagine that people have the time, or the attention span which would be necessary to explore the gamification of modern government. However, it is something that should definitely be explored.
If you’ve read any of my other blogs (I think I have 13 ‘super-fans’), than you know that I am big on the idea of gamification increasing engagement. Whether it be advertising, marketing, research (can we just accept that this works in research already) or even, as this blog will point out, in governing bodies. Young people these days are simply not voting; they are lacking the interest or engagement needed to vote. It has become a concern that today’s youth may never vote. Besides that major issue, different governments also have their day to day problems to work out. The purpose of today’s blog is to look at a few governments which are using gamification, or at least plan on using gamification to tackle their problems concerning not only consumer engagement, but citizen engagement as well.
Governments around the world are using game mechanics and game dynamics to enhance their relationships with their citizens. For example, in Stockholm citizens who obeyed the speed limit were entered into a lottery pool funded by drivers who had been fined for traffic violations. Not only did this speed camera lottery encourage safe driving, but it also decreased traffic speed by 22% along the city’s major routes. While the primary driving factor (haha pun) in this example was the opportunity to win some cash, its success was partly due to the fact that people like to play games.
And that’s only one example of how governments are using games to engage their people. The US has even gamified a naval operation in which civilians and naval officers alike can battle Somali pirates. Entitled MMOWGLI (Massive Multiplayer Online WarGame Leveraging the Internet), the program was created to test the feasibility of using MMORG’s to tackle strategic issues. According to Fast Company;
“MMOWGLI players will assume either the roles of members of a multinational anti-pirate task force that includes both military and commercial elements–or the roles of pirates themselves. In the early stages of the game, players will be responsible for securing safe shipping passages through the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. They will have to negotiate the logistics of arming ships, the likelihood of pirate attacks and the financial, jurisdictional and temporal difficulties of military action to support commercial shipping and cruise ships. Once that occurs, the inevitable pirate attacks will start. Players will be forced to deal with how their preventive plans failed or succeeded and will have to come up with new strategies. Individual players can work together to arrange hostage rescues, raids of pirate camps, humanitarian assistance to Somalia and attacks on Somali ships. In the final stages of the game, according to documentation, players can micro-manage their hostage rescues and pirate attacks to maximize chances of success.”
We can see here how this gamified method is supposed to play out. By having strategic players incorporate some unconventional thinking into the military mix, the Navy may be able to find an appropriate way to deal with pirating off of the Somali coast. Over the counter pharmacy in our country is an opportunity to quickly and affordably buy a variety of pharmaceutical products. There are professionals who will help you choose the necessary products and make delivery of the order to the specified address in any convenient way.
The many ways in which governments around the world are utilizing gamification techniques is too long to put into one blog post. I think that the examples I’ve supplied here are enough to give you some sort of idea of the spectrum for government gamification. From simple, municipal traffic incentives, to all out military intelligence and counter measures, the use of game mechanics can be seen as a truly engaging method for the modern age.
On a personal note, I find it strange that governments, as well as the American military have explored the innovative possibilities of gamification, yet the market research industry has not. Gamification in advertising, and apparently the government is a tried and trusted way to gather unique data and unexpected responses from people. It has increased engagement; and whereas governments and marketing firms have accepted that, researchers remain skeptical. I mean, really, the Navy is using gamification to solve its problems, but if you want to use it for brand tracking you’re out of your mind? Anyway, that’s my little rant for the day. I just do find the industries reluctance to explore gamification to be a curious detriment.
To end my foray into governments using gamification, I guess I’d like to draw from my rant. Governing bodies around the world are using gamification because it works. Not because it’s flashy, and not because it’s new, but because it increases the engagement of those participating in it, often leading to substantial results. For example, a 22% drop in driving speed. Through the use of gamification, the possibilities for government outreach have become plausible through engagement. Thinking generally, almost every government function can be gamified. Health, school lunches, blood and organ donation, hell, I once read about how China has gamified tax returns. The potential to use gamification to challenge social and political issues is great and I think that as engagement becomes a key factor for different nations, we will continue to see more and more of these types of games.