I remember Green Stamps! It used to be my job as a little kid to lick and stick ’em all into those little collection books. Oh, wait. That’s not the green stamps they’re talking about in this AdAge article.
It describes Procter & Gamble’s Future Friendly program that aims to create incentives for people to sign up for a sort of electronic “green stamps” that give points redeemable for merchandise when they recycle through curbside collection programs.
While the term social gaming brings to mind the story a friend of mine told about how she found herself yelling at the public pool for her kids to get out because Mom had to go home and harvest her Farmville potatoes, and everyone seems to be throwing birds at pigs lately, these type of “addictive games” are only part of what’s happening.
Whether it’s stamps for recycling, MVP designation for community participation or badges for checking in at locations you visit, it’s hard to get away from the integration of game theory into social media today.
Some would use the term gamification to describe it, but that in itself has raised a controversy recently – with the Wikipedia entry for it being taken down, then re-posted. David Helgason of Unity, a company that produces game development tools explains gamification as the application of game technology and game design outside “gamespace.”
Whatever you call it, it’s every where these days. The Learning and Entertainment Evolution Forum recently announced that the changing nature of games, simulations and virtual worlds on work and education would be their theme for 2011.
Should businesses rush to apply social mechanics Alexia Tsotsis recently asked in a TechCrunch article? “It’s just natural evolution,” said Disney Mobile SVP Bart Decrem. Tsotisis wrote that businesses developing a product should ask themselves, how the product could let you connect with your friends and make it fun.
Those old S&H Green Stamps are evolving that way even. They’re now known as greenpoints that you earn by shopping various merchants (including my employer, Dell) through the Greenpoints web site. I didn’t see a lot of ways to share the experience with your friends, but you can follow them on Twitter!
What do you think? Is there a point where there could be too much fun? Will we burn out trying to earn gold stars or are humans forever motivated by rewards like Pavlov’s dog? (who has also apparently been “gamified“)
Image courtesy Roadsidepictures via Creative Commons.