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Gamification Trends for 2022: What is Really being Gamified?

Gamification Trends for 2022

It has become somewhat of an annual tradition for me to write up what I see as the main trends for gamification in the world of work. I am a bit later this year in comparison to previous years, to be honest I tried to outsource this post, because I felt it would be one of the easiest for. If  someone to run with, but then I was proven wrong. Gamification is still a niche area and by most other writers confused with gaming. So to be clear we are talking about gamification for use in the workplace and in learning settings, which as far as I can see are still non-game scenarios (although that could be argued).

2022 has some new developments which in previous years I would have put on the longer term future focus for workplace gamification, this year some of these have made on to the list because we have actually seen developments in the space and some active use cases. When I look back at my 2021 predictions and those that went before, they have definitely inspired many a similar blogpost (do give us credit, pretty please) and some are carrying over into this year because they remain relevant in my view. Let’s look at 2022.

The Metaverse

Unless you have been hiding somewhere, the last 6 months have definitely seen this term pop-up and we surely have Facebook’s name change to Meta to thank for it, soon followed by the news of Microsoft and other tech giants playing in this space. The metaverse will combine a virtual world and real life – for me it is the ultimate conversion of game technology and our life both digital and non-digital coming together. The metaverse offers users the ability to socialise, work, learn and play all in one place. It is an immersive experience that blurs the line between reality and digital reality (AR & VR).

Some lifestyle brands such as Nike and adidas have entered the metaverse with clothing for online avatars and interesting offers for their digital shoppers. With NFT’s or non-fungible tokens as the main currency to offer lasting digital value. Our online avatar may wear the brands just like your physical real world character may as well.

Experiences such as product laucnhes have taken on a whole different meaning with the digital play holding similar and in some cases more value than it’s real world equivalent.

The old-school online shop will be completely transformed in the metaverse where you and your digital twin can have totally separate ways of expressing fashion etc. The fashion world has been playing in online mixed reality for a number of years, which I have covered in some of our blog posts. Technology has become even better since and more brands and businesses are entering this space.

We see metaverse and virtual reality often tied together, but to me it is the mixed reality where it will be more exciting and I would expect the uptake to be bigger. Whether it is through digital twins of people and companies or a blend of augmented reality, holographics and virtual reality complimenting one another with real life. I think the metaverse will be a term you will hear a lot in 2022.

The metaverse is set to dramatically affect the workplace in 2022 by allowing users to communicate and collaborate in a virtual environment. This will change the way businesses operate, as employees will be able to work together from anywhere in the world! For example, soon you will be able to :

  • attend a meeting in the metaverse with colleagues from around the globe, then interact with one other
  • Have a realistic and interaction view of a product
  • take online courses and learn new skills in an online environment
  • purchase companies products and services in a virtual marketplace

We are actively working on our metaverse for work and we see it as a major growth area. Especially in light of the post-pandemic hybrid and remote working world. As an early adopter of 2nd Life in the early 2000s, this whole development to me was a matter of time. One thing I am hoping for and one of the reasons we are putting are weight behind it, is that we can avoid or at least limit the unsavoury side of what has become the unfortunate norm online with behaviours such as trolling and bullying being rife and the big tech companies doing far too little to remedy it. Either way, the metaverse in my view is the ultimate application of game technology for non-game purposes aka gamification for real. The sky is the limit for what gamification can do in 2022. Get ready for an immersive experience like never before in the workplace!

Blockchain

What is blockchain? It’s essentially a distributed database that allows for secure, transparent and tamper-proof transactions. It is also the technology powering some of the metaverses but more so the phenomenon of non-fungible tokens or NFT’s. These are unique digital assets that cannot be replicated, making them perfect for business contracts. They are also stored on a blockchain, meaning they can be securely traded between users.

Thanks to smart contracts you will now be able to have digital proof of achievement that will be verified on the blockchain, allowing you to prove your credibility to customers or partners. This would be a great addition to any business and could potentially lead to new opportunities as the trust of the blockchain is solidified. You can’t lie about your assets or company achievements when they are all verified and on the public ledger. This makes it a safe place for businesses to conduct transactions in a transparent environment that is fair and trustworthy.

What most people don’t understand or overlook is the actual philosophic nature of blockchain. In effect it is a rejection of centralised systems in favour of peer-to-peer networks and decentralisation. In other words instead of having the power with a few players, you move the decisions, recognition etc to the chain where each individual cog has a say. With this in mind we have to recognise that there will be whole sector of society looking for a more decentralised way of working, getting paid and showing proof of work, achievement, status etc.

In terms of real life applications, we see blockchain surface in the following use cases:

  • Payments (It powers all crypto-currencies but also some financial transactions where smart contracts have replaced traditional contracts)
  • Memberships and subscriptions – where a smart contract is the proof of ownership and the owner has the right to sell it on, the value is in the limited supply and usage.
  • Digital art – this was probably one of the first things we started seeing with rather dubious art forming a status symbol value on social media channels with for example Bored Ape Yacht club and lookalikes popping up as NFTs
  • Identity verification – even if there is a strong push towards anonimity in blockchain clubs, the technology however can provide a good way of unique identity tracking
  • Proof of achievement is also something we see increasingly taking place on the blockchain and a use case for education, training and work experience.

Our view is that we will see more and more use cases appear in 2022 and that we will move beyond art with more practical and potentially valuable usage in business. In terms of gamification, having smart contracts as part of proof and recognition gives the said achievement value that could be translated in the real world currency.

Although the climate impact still needs to be resolved, I personally don’t see this technology disappearing any time soon. I think it has gained enough momentum and following to be here for the long-run. I do hope however green varieties will come out soon. As a new technology it has already proven to have good business use cases.

Cross Reality – The Three Main Types That Will Impact The Workplace

In addition to being a core enabler of all things metaverse, each of these realities can hold their own place in the world of work. I have mentioned it in previous years as trends and I believe they are still worth mentioning even if they are by no means new. The amount of money that keeps being pumped into these developments tells us that many tech companies are counting on it to turn into something bigger: Microsoft with Hololens, Google with AR glasses, Facebook or Meta with VR headset Oculus, Apple with AR and possibly holographics, Nvidia with AR, etc.

Augmented reality

With the release of Pokémon GO in 2016, augmented reality gaming took the world by storm and made the technology mainstream. Augmented reality allows digital objects or graphics are overlaid onto the real-world environment, letting players experience a new type of reality. Since its release, there has been an influx of other AR games that have continued to grow in popularity.

Augmented reality (AR) has already been used in a number of industries, including education, engineering and marketing.

One of the great use cases remains in engineering and specifically support for field service engineers, where augmented reality tools can help them trouble shoot. It also allows the reverse to give the same field engineers assistance via web links through the augmented visualisation of the solution and giving remote support teams an eye of the job at hand. In this case it saves time in terms of reducing the number of visits required to solve the problem and also in manpower required.

In 2022 we can expect to see more augmented applications for the workplace. For example, many workplaces are already using augmented reality to allow employees to view schematics or product designs in a realistic way. This will become even more common in the next few years as the technology improves. Visualisation of how a design, will look on your given environment is also becoming practice for interior design, furniture and related outfitting industries to give clients a preview of how something can look before you buy.

I believe that augmented reality is where we will see the biggest impact and the biggest opportunity for workplace uptake, once the holographic and displayability becomes easy to achieve. With many of the technology giants working on solutions in this space, I would expect it to be this year or next before it sees another massive breakthrough in usage.

Augmented reality is often confused with virtual reality! The main differences between the two are that AR does not require users to wear headsets that block out reality, it can be used in conjunction with the real world. VR, on the other hand, immerses users in a completely virtual environment.

Virtual reality

Facebook is leading the virtual reality space as they continue to invest billions in this technology including their purchase of Oculus in 2014. In 2022, we can expect to see a number of Facebook-owned VR applications that will use NFTs as part of their everyday experience.

Virtual reality games have been among those that show a high growth rate with a CAGR of up to 53% by 2024! VR can not only be used in gaming but it can help to engage students in education. Through gamified content, they are able to interact with pieces of information rather than absorb it statically.

In high risk learning, where either life is at risk or machinery could cause major damage or the cost of breakage of such machinery, we see virtual reality training offering really viable alternatives. In the health education space attending a training operation or even being part of the operating team, is increasingly lifelike with haptics technology, which through sensors gives you the same feedback to touch as you would receive from interacting with your hands. At the moment this feedback comes through adapted joysticks known from gaming but we also see gloves and haptic suits growing in application.

The good and at the same time bad thing of virtual reality is that the brain doesn’t distinguish between real or virtual reality, which allows for lifelike experience in VR to have the same major impacts as they would have in real life.

In business we have seen engineering design use VR to have multi-disciplinary and multi-location collaboration between teams coming up with the latest in automotive, aerospace and military equipment. Being able to model and interact with the model in virual reality allows companies to see flaws before something is built and prototyped in real life. Hences saving costs and industrial waste.

The drawback for me with virtual reality still is the having to wear the big headsets which shut out reality. For short spells of time, I can see this work insofar as you don’t suffer from the nausea attached to these devices. But for longer duration I really cannot see it as a viable solution. Personal safety and the required trust of not having untoward things happen around you when you are immersed is something that makes many employees reluctant to use VR tools.

Extended reality

Extended reality (XR) is a term that refers to all-immersive digital experiences in some kind of blended experience, including virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. In 2022, we can expect this to continue growing into the main application for business use. The best of the above two technologies is how they complement and add value to our real world experiences.

I see it as possible to have virtual team mates joining in your real space to be part of a meeting. Currently this ties us to sit in front of a camera attached to a device whether mobile of stationary, but in future I would expect this to be more dynamic and ultimately more realistic.
Both VR and AR add value to our existing real life when they enhance our experience either by giving additional information, allowing for more collaboration, creating visualisations that would be costly to create in real life and by creating environments where we can experiment without harm.

Most companies have experimented with some mixed or blended reality experience at this stage and many may have already accepted these as the new normal. Our view is that the development of holographic visualisations will increase the use of XR and also the use cases. Whether you are a fan of VR or AR, having the choice of how you want to experience something will give individuals the freedom to suit the method they are most comfortable with.

5G

It is no shock that 5G has made it on the list, this technology has been getting rolled out all around the world and is expected to be fully operational by 2022. With blistering download speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second, we will no longer have to wait long for data-heavy applications to load.

Every major network provider is racing to be the first to offer a full-scale commercial launch of their respective services. This means that by 2022, there will likely be a few different types of fifth-generation networks available in various countries around the world.

What does 5G have in store for the workplace? Well , with download speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second, employees will be able to quickly and easily access large files from their office server. It will be the enabler of AR/VR/XR in real time. From a gamification perspective, this will give additional richness to what is already possible today.

5G will continue to make it even more seamless for people to connect faster no matter where in the world they are! To summarise 5G will make things easier, quicker and more accessible for everyone! The value of this sector and development could be as much as $1.3 trillion over the next decade!

Interoperability

Most organisations, or at the very least the IT departments of most large companies, have experienced their fair share of challenges in connecting different devices, hardware, operating systems and software. Trouble shooting conflicts has been an industry in it’s own right and so has making devices and systems integrate with each other.

For most of us, we have at the very least had the experience of not being able to read or use something due to some formating issue or other. Most companies will have preferences and even guidelines for technology especially if a bring your own device policy is encouraged.

When it comes to blockchain and metaverses, this whole integration piece has found new life with many players promising to make it possible to integrate with others. This would allow for a seamless experience no matter what your device is. This will be a major departure from using your closed system as a competitive advantage to keep other users out, which will challenge the like of Apple, Microsoft, Google and others who traditionally didn’t start by wanting to compatible with other but rather dominate the market for themselves.

Interoperability means you can connect with any device from any platform. Whilst I believe this is a major step forward in attitude, I also question how realistic it will be. Hopefully we can get there and more application creators start with this in mind. Having put our own efforts into software development we know it isn’t the most straightforward achievement but it does truly help the end-user and this is exactly what it should be about.

From a gamification perspective, being able to carry your earned achievements to different organisations or to continue your experience across different platforms is definitely a winning selling point. It also means that we need to build and design for cross-platform and cross-application gamified experiences. Not all systems nor designers will think beyond the first use case, but hopefully the end-user will get us there.

Decentralised autonomous organisations – DAO

Decentralised autonomous organisations also known through their abbreviation of DAO, are popping up primarily on Discord and Telegram, the social communication channels of choice for this generation. The key objective of a DAO is to come together for a purpose, not dissimilar to a team or company, yet the organisation is fully decentralised with voting systems and a treasury which is allocated among contributing members.

This may seem similar to old school set-ups, but what is noteworthy and something for traditional businesses to pay attention to is the level of control and influence each contributor has. In the corporate sector we often see, a hierarchical structure and a focus on creating shareholder value. In a DAO the focus is on its purpose, and contributor value sharing. In some DAOs you really have no idea who your team members are as they show up with made-up names and avatars, you simply rely on the system to work.

I don’t see how large corporates will take to anonymity and distribution of power and rewards to their people. But it is something to pay attention to. A whole generation is making choices on whether they actually want to fit into a traditional or a decentralised structure. If the centralised model keeps rewarding those at the top the most, I would expect the shift towards decentralisation continuing.

Voting systems have been core to many gamified solutions and can provide good input for team management. Contribution verification and quality rating again not a strange concept and in a completely anonymous decentralised team, part and parcel of how it will need to work in order to have functioning applications coming out. Rewards and distribution of wealth I see as a major opportunity to be reworked. It won’t be done as a gamification trend but maybe the decentralisation trend may cause a move in this direction.

With teamwork and collaboration so often core to our gamification work, I wanted to point out the DAO trend and create the link to how it can also contribute to better structures inside traditional companies.

Play-to-earn

Play-to-earn is where gamers can earn money or rewards by playing games. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as through microtransactions, completing tasks or quests, or even winning contests. Why should we mention this in a gamification context, well I think there is an opportunity for a take on play-to-earn inside companies, whether through contribution rewards or additional reward systems not linked to salary.

Virtual economies have existed for years however now with the emergence of NFTs and blockchain technology the play to earn model can be taken to a whole new level. Your digital  assets can be traded on platforms outside of the original game or platform. Selling them through the official in-game marketplace is just one way you could do it!

A business typically has a for profit objective and people apply to work there for a given salary. Now if we take the play-to-earn virtual economy model into the workplace, we could potentially enhance productivity, collaboration and overhaul the reward systems linking conribution to ownership percentage or some form of in-house currency. Some organisations have used internal currencies for employee reward schemes, but most of the time these are non-transferable and cannot be sold on. I always wondered why not? If for example I earned an additional 2 days of holidays, but didn’t want to use them, I could sell them to a colleague. The value received should then be tradeable for something of equivalent value.

With NFTs represeting digital assets, there is finally a way to transport assets from one organisation to another and potentially sell it on a market place.

I think it will take a few years before we see this as an acceptable practice in business, I do want to put it out there as a development to watch out for. I believe it will impact reward, recognition and benefit schemes in companies in time to come. It may take us beyond 2022 before this sees it’s application but I do sense that it won’t take a decade for it to find business use.

Big players continue to eat up the smaller 

With big acquisition drives from the likes of Microsoft, Google and Facebook as well as similar moves in the workplace technology space of HR and learning. Less and less smaller players are sticking around. With bigger players owning a bigger and bigger piece of the pie, we also see less importance given to the voice of the end-user aka the employee and less service differentiation in general.

The respect for personal privacy and data ownership is questionable with most of the bigger technology companies. Their algorithms are still primarily built by a small mainly white young male subset of society and have increasing influence on how we are being influenced. I am not sure that big player market domination is a good thing.

As an organisation operating in this space for a decade, we have seen many suppliers go and disappear or being absorbed by large companies only for their functionality to disappear completely or their prices to rise beyond most purses.

As an enterprise buyer it may be attractive to buy from tried and tested giants, it will also perpetuate the cookie cutter dull interfaces. A better approach would be to cultivate an eco-system of smaller creative solutions to truly answer some of your work place problems and to create a space that works for your values and most importantly your people.

I hope that governments will come to the point where they have enough knowledge to understand the impact when a few companies from large countries dominate how we work together in business. It is a trend, I would love to see overturned, but I guess with volatile economies after the pandemic, it is potentially one that will only become stronger. Those with money to spare buying out cash strapped smaller companies will continue.

I hope that new and innovative ways to gamify workplace technology and learning technology will always see new players whether directly coming from the world of gaming or from busines applications. Ecosystems of interoperable players is what I would love to see replace domination or even monopolisation by a few giants.

Market growth continues

The global gamification market was valued at US$ 7.6 Bn in 2019 and is expected to reach US$ 38.3 Bn by 2027 at a CAGR of 24.9% between 2020 and 2027. The pandemic definitely assisted in making gamification mainstream and in most companies we will probably find at least one or more gamified processes. The whole metaverse movement with large companies taking an interest will make the convergence of game technology and work place technology even more prevalent than ever before. The metaverse market is expected to run into the trillions. More on that in future posts. With more and more people turning to games for relaxation and stress relief, the market is only going to continue to grow. This presents a huge opportunity for providers of gamification services and products.

Final Thoughts

Gamification will continue to grow and evolve. The last 2 years sped up adoption and judging from the developments in the technology world, it has no indication of stopping any time soon. What I hoep for is that human centric design will be the centre of some of these new developments rather than early days points, badges and leaderboards. I am hoping that metaverses worldwide provide the narrative environment to enable fun new gamification opportunities and transportability of what we earn in one place to be spent in another. As always it remains to be seen how quick the corporate sector will adapt and take up new initiatives. Competition seems to be driving it at the moment, so let’s just say competition will be closely followed by collaboration and then we are on to something.

If you want to read up on what I thought were trends in previous years the links are below:

https://www.gamificationnation.com/gamification-trends-for-2021/

https://www.gamificationnation.com/gamification-trends-for-2020/

Gamification trends for 2019

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