Top Ten Innovations That Came From Gamification


Playing Video Games, aka “gaming,” has become a popular way to spend free time.  Because of this popularity, many companies have found a way to use this hobby for everyone’s benefit. Gamification is applying gaming techniques, such as point scoring, competition, etc, to non-gaming environments.  In general, it is basically making something that used to be difficult, tedious, or in some cases boring into a fun and appealing game.  With that being said there are actually quite a few games that have had an effect on society as a whole. In this blog I will review what I feel are some of the top ten innovations that have come from gamification.

1. Foldit resolved structure of AIDS-like enzyme in monkeys

Foldit is an online game that uses human intuition to predict the shape of a protein and map it.  The goal is to predict how proteins will fold in the best way possible.  The better the folding prediction model you create, the more points you get.  The owners of the game decided to have a three week challenge to see if the users could create the correct protein model for the AIDS enzyme.  Low and behold one group of users created the correct structure that scientists weren’t able to solve for 15 years.  With this and other protein folding breakthroughs, Foldit hopes to help create new proteins that will help combat diseases like HIV, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

2. Planet Hunters discovers 40 planets that could potentially support life

Planet Hunters is an online game with the primary goal of finding planets using the sensitivity in the human eye.  The user looks through data from NASA Kepler Space Mission to see any changes in brightness of a star over time.  Through these changes that the human eye can see better than computers, NASA has found lots of new planets including 40 that could possibly support life.

3. CityOne helps city leaders to focus on conservation and efficiency

CityOne is an app that provides users with the tools to fix whatever problem that your consultant has discussed with you.   These problems can range from energy, banking, water, or retailing.  The goal of the game is to make the most efficient city possible.  The more efficient the city the more points you receive.  At the moment the game hasn’t seemed to solve any actual problems but helps people be aware of real world problems and implement them into real cities.

4. EPOC thought-controlled gaming

The EPOC headset is a wireless EEG (electroencephalogram) device that records brain waves and puts them into a usable format for scientists and developers.  The device can also use your own brain waves to accept commands and do certain tasks.  At the moment, this technology is used for gaming purposes with a few different apps where you control things with your mind, like virtual ping pong.  The more people use these games, the more information is provided to the developers to the point where in the future they envision using this for controlling your house, robots, etc.

5. PokemonGO gets people outside and exercising

The popular PokemonGo app provides the user with a GPS based app where the user walks around finding virtual creatures (Pokemon) to catch and find GPS Locations (PokeStops) to gain items.  You gain experience points by catching Pokemon or going to more PokeStops.  The more levels you gain the better Pokemon you can find.  This game has promoted movement among gamers who usually play their games in one location.

6. Kinect creates controller-free gaming

Kinect is a platform which allows the users to operate hands-free sensors to complete tasks and to play games.  The type of information the Kinect can use is voice recognition, facial cues, and gestures.  This has provided a different type of gaming for the users then they have had before, but also has found extra uses in the world like translating sign language, 3D scans, etc.

7. Recycle Bank encourages recycling

Recycle Bank is an app that rewards people for the amount of items that people recycle.   People are able to track what they recycle and redeem those items for points which they can then use for purchasing. This has saved cities quite a bit of money, but more than that has reduced the amount of items going to landfills.  This will keep our country cleaner and more efficient.

8. Khan Academy turns learning into gaming

Khan Academy is a free education tool that provides people with videos, self-paced exercises, and lessons.  It allows people to learn at their own pace but makes it fun by giving them a map to follow on the journey of learning.  The faster you solve items the more rewards you get.  As you get a streak of correct answers you receive more rewards.  This promotes learning and has allowed something kids usually dread, like school, to be a fun interactive environment.

9. SuperBetter helps you to overcome life challenges

SuperBetter provides you with an online game to help you overcome any challenges in your life.  You create your ideal person that you hope to become and SuperBetter helps you track how you are doing on your goal.  They based their score off of physical, mental, emotional, and social factors.  The game gives you things to do to overcome this challenge and move forward with your life.  You can also involve your friends and family in helping you achieve your goal.

10. FreeRice feeds the poor is a free online quiz game that provides the user with questions.  One correct answer provides 10 grains of rice to those in need.  Basically users get a game to play, sponsors are seen on the game and provide the food, and the hungry get to receive food.  This game provides direct sustenance to those who are in need.

Gamification has really started to provide a new resource for innovation, and in doing so, has already provided real life changes.    Where gaming was once looked at as a hobby that was just for fun, it can now provide new means for companies and organizations to market products, achieve goals, and benefit mankind.    Gamification may not work in every scenario, but it has definitely opened up a new portal for innovation.

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Eric Mills, Information System Security Officer at IdeaScale.


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