It is difficult to come up with a strong creative concept. We may not completely understand how this method works, but some methods, such as mind-mapping, brainstorming or creating conditions for free experimentation, have proven effective in promoting innovation. And the way they operate, many major corporations (such as design agencies) support these practices.
In the video game industry, the rapid acceleration of information technology has led to a huge boom. Some are interested in trying it out in non-gaming ways, curious about what really makes games so engaging. This method (not to be confused with game theory) is called "gamification".
Literally, playing games is a powerful way to promote innovative thinking, and by presenting new rules and often even new truths, it can reduce the challenges of existing behavioral norms and habits.
The concept was quickly taken up by business where, when applied to business processes such as innovation management, bold assumptions were made about the importance of gamification, supervising the process of developing and converting a concept into a marketable solution. But several businesses are either wary of the gamification idea or unsure how to make it work for their unique needs.
The objective of the management of ideas is to engage and streamline people who already have ideas through the "innovation funnel," the process of looking for, selecting and implementing fresh ideas.
For an organization to create a forum such as a website in which to post and exchange ideas, a typical way this would work would be. Each week or month, workers earn points to "invest" in proposed ideas that they want. The good "investors" earn dividends in points after the best ideas are chosen, which can then be re-invested. The points do not have a monetary value, but they are given status value by individuals. Investor play is both enjoyable and serves a serious purpose.
Such programs can be very successful at the start in large companies, but can eventually not cope with the amount of ideas flowing through the funnel. The initiative needs to grow into something else at that point.
But crucially, a gamified environment provides permission for people to think and act differently, and this is where the magic begins to take place.
Another way is to gamify the actual method of producing ideas. This attempts to affect cognitive processes-the mental processes that assist us in assessing, reacting and reacting to any given situation-and includes something that appears more like a real game. This makes implementing it more difficult because it needs a more sophisticated definition to be created. Here, there will not be easy investment points, and this is where fresh ideas can be born and truly thrive.
Two examples of how this can work are alternative reality games and live-action role play (LARP). The players behave like themselves in alternate reality games, but the reality around them shifts. Jane McGonigal, a gamification expert, demonstrated how it can function in a game called World Without Oil, where players were exposed to a scenario in which the world is gradually running out of oil.
To encourage participants to think about what it would mean for them, regular updates on costs, shortages and new oil strikes were given. They shared their thoughts with others as to how their lives will improve. "These were then grouped into shift" signals. Different businesses might then use this collective thought for long-term scenario planning.
The players take on new roles in live action, as the name suggests, while the world around them can shift or remain the same. The interactions between the players and the perspectives they gain from being in a new position or from watching others are what counts.
A new position frees the individual from traditional social norms and encourages them to explore their identities and the facts. Through a LARP called Battlestar Galactica, for example, researchers from the University of California researched smart social wearables (wearable devices that aim to boost real-life interactions).
The survivors of an alien attack on their home world were played by the participants and had to change their contact with each other based on the physical and mental health measures from the clothes they were wearing. The researchers gained insights into how wearable technology can mediate human experiences by analysing the findings.
Gamification for the good
As a way to develop and optimize their business processes, many businesses are likely to adopt gamification for concept management. Even if it is not in their job description, it is a more playful, engaging way to give every employee a voice and encourage them to be innovators.
Gamification, however, should not be seen as a solely instrumental technique for the simpler task of handling concepts. It is more challenging and resource-consuming to use it to encourage innovative thinking, but it is also more satisfying because it can assist us to discuss and envision future challenges and possibilities.
And it is not an approach that, like architecture, can stay just in the domain of obvious creative industries. This approach can be used by more conventional companies to re-imagine their future and free up their innovative potential. Sports, for instance, might assist the bottled water industry to consider what it might look like in light of pressing problems with plastic waste. How can it be adapted? The imagination that contributes to innovation and reinvention is stimulated by embracing gamification.