3 Problems with Gamification in Market Research #MRX

Warcraft: Orcs & Humans

If you’re in market research and you haven’t heard of gamification, you’ve got your head in the sand. Over the last year, it’s evolved from computer game speak to being a possible saving grace for our industry. For those who are less than well-informed, have a look at Research Through Gaming. Essentially, the concept refers to applying the rules of gaming to market research.

That being said, the last year has also taught me that there are numerous problems with gamification in market research. Here are just three of my major concerns.

  1. Gamified research produces different results than non-gamified questions. If you know anything about surveys, you know that changing one small word can completely change the results. So naturally the same is true with gamified research. But let’s stop and think about this. Why SHOULD the results of gamified research be the same? If we wanted identical results, then we’d just run another survey. And that’s not why people are looking to gamified research. Regardless of the question type or survey style, all researchers are seeking is the best answer to the question. If that means using gamified research, then so be it.
  2. Gamified research can’t be applied to most other types of research. Is that true? Regardless of how much of a fan of Diablo or Warcraft you are, I do know that using fully gamified research doesn’t work for every research objective nor every person. But, I suspect that all forms of research can benefit at least in part by a little game theory.  Online surveys and mobile surveys and focus groups and more could stand to incorporate a little more fun.
  3. Gamified research is difficult to set up. If you haven’t been a kid for a long time, then gamified research probably will take you a bit of time to get used to. It’s quite hard to over come twenty years of being a boring person. So take this as your opportunity to lighten up and see the world the same way as the average person does. Not as long list of checkboxes and radio buttons, but as many little challenges on the way to a fun day.

3 responses

  1. Thank you for this great post – I totally agree with you. I just want to add the concept of surveytainment to the discussion, because I think it might help to see things clearer. Surveytainment and gamification are often mixed up, but your points show exactly the differences between both concepts:
    (1) Surveytainment is about full comparability of the results while making it easier and more attractive for respondents to share valid information.
    (2) Surveytainment is about improving the user experience without changing the survey concept itself.
    (3) There are some basic techniques for applying survertainment, that are easy to set up.

  2. Concur on all points. The biggest challenges for gamifying research (in my biased opinion, as a lifelong gamer and researcher for game publishers) are (1) cost-effectiveness and (2) applicability. Making a game-like experience that will be recognized as a game to people that play games is not an inexpensive endeavor, but it is definitely achievable…as long as you pick the right research scenarios. It’s like any other project, though — understand your research goals, then select the best methodology to address those goals.

    1. “Understand your research goals” That sounds like another one of those “common sense” things that isn’t actually common sense. :)


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