Are Games the Green Wave of the Future?
Editor’s Note: We asked our good friend Albe Zakes at TerraCycle, to share his ideas on gamification when it comes to living the eco-friendly lifestyle. Here are his thoughts.
Playing games is an integral part of growing up. No matter the type of game, from the playground to living room, we learn valuable life lessons like how to follow rules, the importance of teamwork, and how to set and reach goals. Most importantly though, we play games because it’s fun and rewarding! Companies are now applying the enjoyment we get from playing games to non-game-like contexts – namely education and marketing – in the hopes that consumers will adopt new behaviors. This concept, dubbed “gamification” can be just what the green movement needs to motivate people to fully embrace a more sustainable life.
What is Gamification?
Companies use gamification to encourage a certain behavior by awarding points, achievement badges, virtual currency, real-life prizes or coupons or by showing progress bars and leader boards. The explosion of social networking and smart phones has made gamification a fundamental part of companies’ marketing strategies and is even used to motivate their own employees. Gamification could change the world by encouraging people to be the best they can: healthier, educated, and more sustainable. It’s so powerful because it can be applied to anything, but it is taking hold in the environmental and socially responsible movements.
Why does it work?
Gamification fulfills our need of belonging by being part of a larger group and boosting esteem through “social currency.” Games also appeal to us competitively, which makes us strive do better – this aspect of gamification taps into our innate drive to want to “win.”
Going Green through Gamification
Everybody knows what it takes to live a greener, more responsible life. However, a very small percentage of people actually take action. Gamification may fill this gap by converting people to a greener lifestyle and make them more loyal to the cause, thus making sustainable behavior the norm. Many companies already use this technique to motivate consumers to be more sustainable. Electric companies around the country are all using gamification in different ways, such as showing how you compare with your neighbors, competing in biggest energy-saver contests, and earning points for gift cards to supermarkets. A leading start-up in this industry is Practically Green, which helps corporations utilize gamification to engage employees in different eco-friendly contests.
Most people would cringe if they knew how much energy certain household items used. Soon, gamification will be applied to meter-like apps showing energy consumption for each appliance by the hour. While we wait for the app, we can make going green at home our own game. Remember; it’s always better to work as a team but a little competition goes a long way! Start off with a few green goals and make them fun. For example, take a shorter shower and make a playlist for the goal time. When the music stops, you better hurry and get out. Use a money jar; every time someone leaves a light on, they put a quarter in the jar!
Gamification has already encouraged individuals to live greener lives. Since gaming is mostly performed by younger generations, this makes the success of green gamification more palpable. Their open minds can pave the way for a more sustainable future – one game, one change at a time.
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