Gamification does not only have a lot in common with sports, it is also extremely important for both the future and the further development of it. Hence, it is important for many sports organisations to pay attention to this important trend. We discuss 9 important reasons why gamification matters a lot.
What is gamification?
Gamification can be defined as the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) in order to encourage participation. This says it all, doesn’t it? We like games! Probably you can recall the times when you were a kid. No doubt you loved to play games with your friends, parents etc. Maybe you organised your own games, maybe you played board games or possibly you played electronic games. Games are of all ages, as they are embedded in us. We like to play and have fun and we like to win. That’s why we love them!
Because we love to play games, these games increase the probability that we repeat them. Hence games tend to motivate people to repeat and improve behaviour. As there is always a reward involved, people take an effort to gain this reward. This element is important as it can create loyalty and ongoing commitment. This is why gamification within our society has gained traction over the last decade or so. It is used to increase customer commitment and attract new participants. Hence gamification often results in higher returns on investment, whatever these investments are, whether it is in sports iteself, in stadiums, in broadcasting etc.
Gamification has become incredibly popular because of the ever growing importance of technology. Technology can bring communities together, but makes it also easier to spread important game-like elements like scoring systems, ranking lists, virtual goods and incentives. Moreover, it is here to stay as GenZ and GenAlpha cannot do without it. In fact they have been educated with it. Even in school kids learn by using game like elements on their computers.
Also interesting to read: Sportification is the new mantra of the game industry
Sports and gamification
Clearly gamification already plays an important element in the world of sports and this trend will only gain further momentum in the future. This is not surprising as sports and games have a lot in common. They both are all about competing and winning. What? Yes, they are much alike and no wonder that they are complementing each other. Adding gamelike elements to sports, adds value to both the (inactive) fan and the (active) participant.
Hence gamification can be implemented in sports in a non-active way (you are sitting in your chair and playing a game on your computer) and an active way (the game is integrated in your sports). Both ways create brand loyalty and increase higher commitment levels. That’s why it is so important! Traditional sports appear to be not sufficiently aware of this trend and should adjust their strategy to protect their sports from becoming less popular. The question is if they are able to do thos , especially as they tend to be conservative and protective about their sports. Lets give them a few reasons why gamification matters a lot!
1. Gamification is globalising sports
Technology has no boundaries and no time limits. Basically you can play a game everywhere at any time. This has several huge advantages. First of all you can compete now with somebody in Japan or the US or anywhere else. You are no longer bound to a physical location. As long as you are online on the platform, you are in! Just pick a competitor and start your game.
A very good example of this is the Zwift cycling platform, which allows cyclists to cycle at home and simultaneously compete online with other cyclists. It can’t get any better than that! Watch the video below and you will see that it is a barrel of fun! The big advantage is that the weather is always nice although you don’t experience any fresh air! Anyway, climb on your bike and cycle away together with your friend in Singapore.
And there are plenty of sports, which are following this trend. What to think of all SIM games, racing leagues etc: you just need a Playstation and a simulator and off you go! Or what about playing online golf at home. You just need some software and a room where you can hit your balls. And there is money on the table here! This way sports can gain popularity in case they offer these online opportunities.
2. Gamification helps attracting GenZ and GenAlpha to participate in sports
GenZ and Gen Alpha are the tech generations. They have been brought up with technology and eat, breathe and sleep with it. Gaming is in their veins. Without tech, no deal! Simultaneously, we see that several traditional sports are losing market share as these newer generations feel less attracted to long and boring matches or games. Sports have to be fast and furious.
Gamifying sports can help tremendously and those sports which are able to bring in gaming elements certainly will have an advantage. This can work in two ways. Firstly, existing computer games can lure kids into the real game. Secondly and even better is to bring in gaming elements into real sports. FIFA 2020 is one way to do it (an inactive way) and above mentioned Zwift is the more active version of gamification.
DashTag is an interesting example in this perspective. It uses gamification to engage youngsters. The Dash, which is a small soccer wearable, delivers personalized FIFA game-like stats (which these youngsters know from playing the online) game straight to a player’s phone. With the stats the sensor is gathering they can compare theirselves with teammates and their heroes. Games and challenges make it fun to engage in!
Also interesting to read: How GenZ will change the world of sports
3. Gamification makes sports more fun!
Don’t you hate it to go to the gym and do your regular exercises! It’s boring as hell, at least for me. Gamification makes such exercises a lot more fun as far as I am concerned. With your hololens or glasses all kind of games can be played, which will encourage you to go more often! Watch the video below. It is a good example of exercising in a fun way. And yes, it should move you gamers! BoxVR is another good one, but there are many more! Here you will find some further great examples.
Running, cycling and walking are activities which you can do all by yourself! It might seem boring, but fresh air will do you good and you will maintain your fitness level. But wouldn’t it be nice to add a level of fun! Ofourse you can use the Stravas and Runkeepers of this world but there should be more! There is! Storytelling adds a layer of fun to these activities. What to think of Zombies, Run. It combines storytelling with exercise. You have to go on a mission! The storyline is highly engaging and you will look even forward to your next run. Fit for battle is another example within this category (see video below).
Also interesting to read: 10 ways to keep fit during Corona crisis
4. Gamification makes it easier to improve performance levels
Gamification in sports basically started with the introduction of wearables, which were measuring your distance, speed, heartrate etc. This way you could improve your performance. Wellknown evergreens such as Strava, Nike Run club and Runkeeper started to integrate some great and motivating gamification elements but also added platforms where you could compare yourself with your buddies. This way, they have become social communities.
Also interesting to read: 11 important future trends in sports
5. Gamification makes it easier to learn a new sports and improving technical skills
Games are ideal to learn a new sports. They maximize enjoyment and engagement through capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to do better. Well hey! You want to reach the next level, don’t you? Then you first have to learn the skills of level one! There is nothing more to it. That is why you an increasing number of kids learning new skills like reading and calculus in a playful gamy way. Sports is nothing different. Watch the video below.
You want to learn how to play pool? No problem! Wallclimbing? No problem! See the video under the section on health! It makes learning a lot easier. Or what to think of Dribble up, which is a smart soccer ball, That enables you to improve your technique at home by adding game elements.
6. Gamification may be an incentive to improve health and fitness levels of kids.
Believe it or not, games can help you and your kids in getting better health and fitness levels. If game technology can lure kids into the real deal (participating in a real sport rather than a game), it is game on as far as I am concerned! Many children nowadays get insufficient exercise because they are sitting at home playing with their Playstations. What if you can integrate this with active participation in a game?
Watch this video with kids playing a game just by exercising. It’s great! And there is much more to come. Sportification will gain traction in the future. Equipped with VR goggles, you can become the active participant in for example Fortnite. Many will not be able to resist this challenge and new sports and e -athletes will come to the fore!
7. Gamification leads to new (techno)sports
Gamification can also lead to new exciting sports. The combination of sports integrated with technology will be luring new young participants and such technosports will gain market share! A good example is Hado, which is becoming incredibly popular in countries such as Japan and Singapore. This is an easy one, Hado has everything to become popular amongst the younger generation as it integrates to worlds as the video below shows. I can’t wait to try it myself !
8. Gamification creates new social sporting communities
For the younger generation a sense of togetherness is extremely important. They want to gather with their buddies and chill! Social communities where you are able to connect with otheres are therefore a must for many of them. Gamification may offer this, as technology is able to combine a social network/platform where you can play a game and share whatever you want.
Obviously there are the examples such as Runkeeper, Nike and Strava, but a good example can also be found in kitesurfing. Kitesurfers are free spirits which like to meet their counterparts. The Woo is a gamification tool which can realise this. It records your session while you are kitesurfing. It capture your highest boost in Big Air mode or it scores your tricks. These achievements you can post on a social platform (which includes leaderboards etc),so your friends can see what you have been up to and if you have indeed gained bragging rights.
9. Gamification is excellent fan engagement tool
Fans are extremely important for the development of a sport. Without fans, a sport has really no purpose for existence as fans may either become participants (if they not already are) or take care of the necessary funding of their clubs, sports and federations. Gamification will help in creating brand loyalty and commitment of fans now and in the future. If clubs and sports federations give the fan that unique and immersive experience, they will come back!
There are loads of opportunities to do this both on the field and off the field. Lets start with the inside stadium experience. Consider the future stadium as an enormous game console where you as a fan can decide what you want to experience.
Do you want to have a picture taken with one of your heroes? Consider it done! Do you want to have your face painted in your team’s colours? It all can be done with AR and much more! Such as for example zooming in with your phone on a match day program and getting all kind of interactive experiences and games, or playing a game with your friends by predicting scores. A whole new layer of experiences will be put over a game which you are watching. I bet you will get hooked.
Lets go outside the stadium now! Plenty of opportunities here! First of all, there are the fantasy games, where participants assemble imaginary teams of real players of a professional sport These teams compete based on the statistical performance of those players’ in the real game.
But there are many more developments. In the US there is now a fan controlled football league, where fans decide on which play will be executed, which players will be bought and sold, which colors the teamjerseys should have etc. The fans in this league make the calls. In soccer there is a team in France, which is also controlled by the fans, whilst in Formula E, fans can decide on which driver will get a power boost. I am sure, we will see more of this in the future in order to enhance fan engagement.
Also interesting to read: 7 awesome examples of fans calling the shots
I hope you have a better understanding now on how important gamification will be for sports going forward. It means federations have to take action in order to keep their sports attractive to participants and fans. I would love to hear your views on this.