Why leveraging socio gamification in an enterprise will drive more value

Every game has a defined way to win. The real question is how many players play a game for the sole purpose of winning. According to Professor Richard Bartle from the University of Essex, the primary type of players (80%) are “Socializers” who join a game purely to interact with other players and enjoy the social aspect.  The same holds true for enterprise gamification techniques.

This theory takes out the traditional Points, Badges and Leaderboards (PBL) based gamification out of the equation and places a bigger value on the Social Elements in a game.

Socio Gamification – Definition
Socio Gamification can be defined as the use of social elements (likes, sharing, comments etc.) along with a meaningful community-driven approach for the players within a gamified environment. The emphasis is more on building relationships with other players than playing the game itself.

Designing the community – Defining friends
As Gartner predicts 80% of the initial gamification systems will fail primarily due to poor design. Hence it’s important to understand how to use game mechanics and game dynamics properly.  It’s also important to design the player journey from onboarding to mastery stage along with the community journey.

When a player initially comes into the system, he needs some level of confidence on where he stands and how his “friends” are doing. The key factor here is the definition of “friends”. Based on different contexts “lists of friends” can change. If the competition happens within the team, then your project members become friends, but if the competition is about your core functional work (Like sales, marketing) then your friends would be those who are at your own level/designation. Most importantly every single player in a game should be meaningful to one another.

Leaderboard to show where you are – as opposed to the top 3
The traditional leaderboards shows the top 5 to 10 people in the game who have millions of points and dozens of badges. While at first that is motivating to the other players, as the game progresses it becomes impossible to take over the leaders. This can create active disengagement to those who join later or to an average player who doesn’t score as much as the top 2 – 3 % performers in the organization. Even though we get the community right, still we don’t have the right design.

One way to tackle this problem is to show where the person stands with 3-5 people above them and 3-5 people below them. This gives them a short term target of how to beat the next 3-5 players as opposed to gain a million points and be on top. The second approach is to create a much narrowed down community which suits his/her position. For an example showing a leaderboard with, “Those who joined the company in the same week you joined” or “Those who have the same designation as you” will create a narrowed scope to the competition This will not only allow the players to earn more achievements but also augment deeper engagement and build long term relationship.

Use the game mechanics with Social mechanics
We don’t keep our trophies in the drawers. Likewise Points, Badges, Status and Virtual Goods are there to be displayed. But to whom. Typically an achievement feels better when your friends or colleagues who appreciate it. One way to achieve this is by sending out an automatic notification to the list of friends about the player’s achievement. As an extension, the system could also provide a message box, so that the friend can send back a congratulations note. The second way is to allow the achiever to share his/her achievement. However the general options such as “Likes”, “Comments” are inevitable in a system like this. When you design a gamified system it’s important to use social mechanics to enable interaction. The power of any gamified system depends on how much motivation the player has after he has achieved something. Provided that 80% of the players are socializers, having placed social mechanics can trigger an intrinsic motivation amongst all the participants. By deploying a coordinated application a company can motivate behaviors and drive outcomes for both customer and the organization.

Joining the dots
In a typical enterprise environment, it’s not that easy to target the game with the most suitable community, but the important aspect is to build the social culture in the game. When players are interacting they tend to bring more value to the table, where more innovations and better ideas will follow. It will help the average people to create role models and follow their behavior while seeking their help to develop skills. This in turn will create a positive connect between all the players. If the system provides benefits (recognition, power, access, virtual goods) to the top achievers it will also encourage them to help out those who want to climb the ladder fast. Overall the skills of the players will also improve over the time. From the corporate leadership point, such a scenario will improve the entire organizational performance and the skills set of its employees by contributing to the organization’s goals.

Gamification will not give you the ultimate solution, but how you design it, will. Therefore, a gamification strategy designed based on three levels: personal, organizational and societal in an enterprise can drive more value.

Prageeth Sandakalum

Consultant, Gamification Lead - Customer Experience Management, Virtusa. Prageeth is responsible for end to end delivery of Gamification products, general technical lead operations and internal/external sales for the millennial enterprise initiative of Virtusa (V+). He is also a part of many strategic initiatives in the area of millennial enterprise solutions and assists the organization in the Go To Market strategy for the same. He is a First class honors degree holder in the field of Information Technology from University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. He is also an Advanced Speaker – Bronze, specialized in Technical Presentations & Informative Speaking awarded by Toastmasters International. He was an invited guest speaker at the SharePoint & Social Business Conference 2012, USA and a speaker at Microsoft Sri Lanka Technology Forums and Various Educational Institutes including National Universities. Apart from being a researcher on Gamification and Social Business Techniques, he also loves to watch and play Cricket and Badminton, Travel around the world and do Latin American dancing.

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  • Corey Willix June 18, 2014

    excellent idea – to “narrow down the community” by showing where the person stands in relation to their peers (i.e. geography, rookie status, etc.) instead of just the top 5 that can be discouraging @times.

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  • Roman Rackwitz May 17, 2015

    Hey Prageeth Sandakalum,

    I totally agree. Every Gamification Designer should consider to take Points, Badges, Leaderboards out of the equation, especially in the beginning when you are starting to develop the Gamification concept. It is easy to add them later on anyway, if needed.

    Your suggestions concerning Socio Gamification are good. But if your really want to go deep into Gamification I would stop to think about ‘what is possible after the activity is done by the user’ (how to design leaderboards, likes, sharing, comments etc.). These elements are good but only ‘layers’ on the activity that we want to gamify, rigth? So, if the activity itself is dull, probably by adding something at the end we can make it a little bit more entertaining but it is still a dull activity.
    Instead, we have to change the activity itself. For me, this is the real Gamification. The exciting thing about that: If you are doing a great job than there is almost no need anymore for points, Badges, Leaderboards, and so on.

    This is why we always start with the activity itself and work on the implementation of the right ‘environment’ where the activity itself becomes more ‘game-like’. At its core we call this to implement the ‘5 Pillars of Gamification’: http://www.slideshare.net/romrack/the-5-pillars-of-gamification

    Of course you can also focus only on the simple Gamification layer like points, badges, leaderboards, rewards, and so on. But this will never change the actual character of an activity itself. So, in the long term you will always need to offer more (points, badges, rewards, or to make it easier to climb the leaderboard) in order to keep the users engaged. We already know this problem for decades looking at the traditional loyalty program industry. They are also working with points, badges, leaderboards and rewards. And it doesn’t work for them anymore like it worked once.
    The humans got used to this approach…

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your approach with us. Cheers, Roman

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