August 19, 2013

An Interview with Gamification Wizard Jim Wexler

Technology Advice recently had the opportunity to chat with Jim Wexler, a man with quite a large amount of experience in both the gamification and digital marketing worlds. He is the President of Experiences Unlimited, a company that specializes in improving organizational performance through gamification, game-based brand platforms and social media marketing. As a pioneer of games as a media platform, Wexler has put over 8 million advergames into play for many major companies like Coca-Cola and General Mills.

He has an understanding of the complex human nature involved with gaming and was kind enough to share some of his insight & expertise on what he believes will help businesses enhance the effectiveness of their gamification platforms.

“It’s an interesting time for the exploration of gamification, there’s a lot of interest and excitement and money moving around this aspect of tech-deployment. I think it’s fair to say that there are many gamified applications that are glorified report cards; turning games into work rather than making life into a game. And that’s a big difference. One of the key ingredients missing in a lot of the gamification apps or APIs that are being trafficked is mastery  … Games are about mastery. It’s not enough to take any website or application or any behavior and just sprinkle game dynamics on it like MSG and hope that there’s an uptake in responsiveness. That’s short-lived. We’d like to think by truly looking at what’s being delivered and bringing that special component of mastery into that you’ll truly bring people in and truly engage them.”

“The other aspect of any game that needs to come to a gamification platform is meaning and meaningfulness. If you’re going to gamify something and deliver a gamified application, it has to connect to something that is already meaningful to the participants. You can’t make someone do something if it’s not significant to them already.”

In addition to discussing the basic principles of game dynamics, Jim also shared some opinions on the importance of consulting and game design.

“The idea that you can simply say let’s gamify something and wave a magic wand, it’s probably not true. There are a slew of new providers of gamification or gamification overlays to digital delivery, that think of themselves as application providers … In the end they have to consult too.”

“I don’t know if I’m an outlier but I really believe that you need a game designer in order to gamify. You need someone who can look at a process and the roles of the participants within that process and understand how to make it engaging and fun. They also need to know how to identify the levers of mastery or meaning and recommend a solution. I may say that because I was forged in that, but I’m not a game a designer – these are my team members. The designer is the one who will end up crafting the experience that’s going to be worthwhile and if you don’t have that creative/suggestive person on the team, there is a likelihood that it’s going to be less effective.”

To put it simply, Jim Wexler is an essential figure for the development of gamification. This September, he is acting as the conference chair of the Enterprise Gamification Forum in New York City. The forum will offer a wide variety of speakers and discussions that could transform the power of gamification in your business. Check back with TechnologyAdvice.com soon for more coverage on the Enterprise Gamification Forum.

Looking for software? Try our Product Selection Tool