Pro File: An Interview with Brian Burke

burkecallWe recently had the opportunity to interview Brian Burke, author of Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things. Brian is a Gamification Pro, so we wanted to share this entire interview with everyone. Enjoy!

In your book you talk about Gardner predicting the failure of most gamified applications by 2014. Now it’s 2016 what do you think the success or failure rate truly is now, in apps or otherwise.

I’m not sure if i’m able to give you a success or failure rate right now. We haven’t gone back in studies since about 2012 so I’m not sure I can give you a viable rate. What I can tell you is we have asked people who are around gamification every year and that informally, the prediction was reasonably accurate through 2014 and maybe into 2015.

We’ve seen a shift in where gamification is going over the past year or so where companies that use gamification has narrowed in on a kind of subset that leads to repeatable successes. And i think that’s where we are now with the limited use of gamification becoming more successful and more repeatable.

Game theory is interesting in the way it uses motivation as a way to achieve goals, now I’m wondering what applications you’ve seen, online or offline, where motivation is a big tool that are show a lot of potential for success?

Burke: In terms of areas where gamification is really taking off, learning is a huge one. As different types of service staff, in sales and serving. I think that when it comes to buying and selling in marketing it can really serve to help for people to understand how a product or service can improve them and help them achieve their personal goals. It’s about identifying what motivates people and utilizing gamification in the best way possible. Now what’s hard about that is alot of people have goals that they don’t realize they have. So you have to add in that measure of, what are your goals? You have to use gamification to really take them on that journey.

We talk a lot about intrisic rewards vs. internal rewards and motivations, and you know it can seem like success or being effective just comes from the intrinsic rewards.  They seem more substantial and long lasting, while the internal rewards can be much more fleeting. What is your opinion on internal vs. external, and the effectiveness or where to focus?

Burke: There was actually some research on this cited recently. External awards tend to have a limited factor on how long you can keep people engaged on the single reward, but when it becomes internal, people are willing to work towards that reward for a longer period of time. One of the challenges of using tangible rewards is that the reward becomes the motivation. For example if i was trying to lose 10 pounds i would have an internal motivation and I would, you know, become more careful about how I’m eating, and exercising and so forth. But if someone were to give me $10.00, that might become my motivation for perhaps, a day. So it is somthing where that kind of reward does not sustain engagement as much as an internal motivation.

One of the things we talk about is online reviews and how they affect purchases, so how do you think online reviews can be applied to gamification?

Burke: Often we do use gamification to get people to write those reviews. People like to be recognized for giving their opinion, so it is common to use some basic gamification to convince people to contribute their review. Then of course we do look at behavioral science and after getting the reviews, how do you use algorithms to match the right reviews to people who might like the same kinds of things? And that is not really gamification but it is an interesting and important area of the work.

How do you think different triggers effect gamification?

Burke: There are tremendous opportunities that come with the ability to classify people into groups, or what we would call personas, and engage them in different ways with different types of triggers. Different triggers will work with different personas. And that is an area where we do have a lot to learn. How do we anticipate needs based on personas? What triggers are likely to move a similar group of people? And this is a movement of which we are in the early days, we need to figure out what we need to group these personas accurately.

Do you feel like you are as dedicated to gamification today as you have been in the past?

Burke: Well no, actually I’ve had a shift in my responsibilities at Gardener and so while I stll touch on gamification, I am no longer actively pursuing new research on it. My focus has really shifted to technology innovation. So not really because of a lack of interest, but rather what i’m being asked to do in my job. However, while it is no longer my focus it is still something I’m asked to field questions on at Gardener.

Are there any examples of gamification that interest you specifically?

Burke: I think Pokemon Go is an interesting example of gamification. I think that from a gamification perspective it uses some pretty basic stuff but it rather uses augmented reality which is a different technology. However, I think it is having a tremendous impact.