“It’s like adding a game layer on top of reality…”

And that’s when my staff looked at me sideways.

Yes, I have to admit that it’s not every day in our business we talk about “gamification” in the office, but we strive to have our collective ears to the ground for what’s coming next in research, and the topic did come up and caused a lively discussion.

It’s hard to ignore the topic of gaming nowadays, from hearing about hardcore gamers playing 16-hour stints to the prevalence of smartphone and tablet apps that turn even grocery shopping into a game. 

How have games encroached on everyday life?

-You can check into a sub shop, check out the challenges for that location on SCVNGR, and unlock badges and real-world rewards.  (Interested in more game theory? Check out founder Seth Priebatsch’s TED talk about "Building the game layer on top of the world.”)

-Ready to get in shape, but want social support with aspects of a game? There’s Fitocracy, whose founders Brian Wang and Richard Talens “understood how addictive it could be trying to get to that next level, beating that next boss, and completing that next quest” and decided to apply that to fitness and weight loss.

-Are you an avid cyclist who wants to challenge one of over a million other riders to a virtual race? There’s Strava for you, which according to Outside Magazine is “changing the way we ride” and has spawned a verb: to Strava. 

One of the leading speakers on gamification is Jane McGonigal, the Kickoff Keynote speaker at The Market Research Event 2013.  McGonigal is a game designer, the author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, and a noted TED speaker whose talks have garnered millions (and millions) of views.

I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to hear McGonigal in person at #TMRE13, and the fact that she is keynoting underlines something I (and my team) have been discussing…If the world is going the way of games, research simply must keep up, right?

I'm no expert on research through gaming (for that I humbly direct you to Betty Adamou and her Research Through Gaming team), but I’m intrigued as to how often this topic continues to bubble up in research industry discussions about the future of research. 

As a client-side researcher firmly rooted in reality (without a game layer currently!), I'm interested to learn more at TMRE this year both from Jane McGonigal and from other presenters as to how others may be using game thinking and game mechanics in research.  I always expect to hear about the hot new topics in research in the hallways and exhibit floor of TMRE, and I fully expect this year will be no different. I'll be curious to hear how others are currently exploring this topic, and who has put this into practice already.

Speaking of games, it’s time I get back to Candy Crush Saga, level 147 has me flummoxed!