No, the government hasn't decided to give away badges or other rewards for paying taxes, but that's the example gamification guru Gabe Zichermann uses to describe the whole concept of using game mechanics to make everyday life more fun (even dreadful things like dealing with the IRS) in a recent radio interview.
Zichermann is making the rounds promoting his upcoming (and first-ever) Gamification Summit 2011 in San Francisco on January 20-22. The author of ‘Game-Based Marketing’ and other reps from Google, Microsoft and FarmVille-maker Zynga will be on hand to talk about how businesses can work on bettering their user engagement by turning their product into a sort of game.
The key to gamifying your business, Zichermann says, is SAPS -- status, access, power and stuff -- which are the four main things people are looking for when they engage with a brand. Many companies have been doing this for years, such as airlines with their frequent flier programs, he says, which has managed to keep millions engaged with a “pretty low-quality product.”
Of course, gamification’s next big hurdle is figuring out how to create a more compelling game-like experience for customers, one that goes beyond handing out a bunch of random virtual badges. Zichermann agrees. “I’m really advocating that companies shift from giving away coupons and cheap giveaways like hats and T-shirts, to giving away more valuable long-term status benefits that connect the customer to the brand in a more long-term, meaningful and emotional way.”
Considering how emotional paying taxes can be, maybe there's something to the whole IRS and FarmVille idea after all.