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OPINION13 October 2011

Gamification or funification?

There’s lots of talk about gamification in research – but is it really gaming, or is it more about making surveys more fun?

The topic of gamification of research seems to be very much on everyone’s lips right now. I must admit that when I first heard it I thought it had something to do with game theory, and so thought it sounded very clever indeed. In fact there has been a lot of work using game theory to determine likely human behaviour, but that does seem to be a little way off from market research right now (unless anyone else is doing anything on it?).

Instead I have been enlightened by seeing the excellent paper by Jon Puleston and Deborah Sleep on gamification at last month’s Esomar Congress (summarised here). This, along with other stuff in the news and at conferences makes it clear that it is about making the survey more like a game.

Actually, that isn’t quite what people seem to be doing, hence the title of this post. It appears that we are mostly talking about ways of making standard questions more interesting or fun to complete. Think smiley faces on customer sat ratings or fun slides on ratings scales. These largely do not use any gaming mechanisms and so are not nearly as potentially scary or different as they may at first appear.

Instead it seems to be something we should all be adopting as quickly as possible. Simple, basic ways of making our poor respondents’ survey experience just that little bit more interesting.