Gamification Offers Effective Way to Engage Employees During Pandemic

Virus Hunter Game

By Stephanie Van Ness


For three billion people including me, the pandemic has not only changed where we work — bye, bye office cubicle; hello kitchen table, living room sofa, even bed — but how we work. With the majority of non-essential businesses largely virtual and Zoom both noun and verb, it would seem logical that we’d want to spend our free time engaging with the physical world. 

Turns out, not so much.

Sure, parks, jogging trails and golf courses have become more popular than ever in today’s age of social distancing. But, many people — fully 55 percent of U.S. residents, according to Nielsen company SuperData’s 2020 year in reviewturned to video games to fill their time. People played games to ease boredom, stay in touch with each other and gain a sense of connection. 

Makes sense since traditional entertainment options like sporting events, movie theaters, bars, and large-group restaurant dining have largely been unavailable. (And even now, with some states relaxing rules, congregating in large groups is still discouraged.) What’s interesting about this video game habit — one that is brand new to a large proportion of working-age gamers — is that it is likely to stick around even after the pandemic subsides. Says SuperData, “the long-term habits formed during lockdown are here to stay.”

For savvy businesses, that’s good news because video and digital games — more specifically, gamification — provide an effective way to engage a remote workforce.

“Gamification has grown in popularity over the past few years, but has really exploded during the pandemic as companies explore new ways to engage their Zoomed-out, work-from-home teams,” said Philip Chila, Director of Operations. “We’ve long known that gamification is a highly effective engagement tool. As the pandemic has forced businesses to think outside the box, many are embracing gamification. Why? Because it works.”

Fun and Games

Gamification leverages fun game-design elements like points, competition and status, and applies them to business content to make it more interesting and memorable. Says Raj N. Phani, Chairman at FinTech company Zaggle, “Since work from home is fast emerging as a new normal concept, gamification is the most important part of corporate in terms of employee incentives because gamification is a process of integrating the mechanics of the game into something that motivates engagement and participation in work.”

"Gamification works particularly well for remote learning, employee onboarding, driving productivity and communicating corporate messaging in a way that builds morale and a sense of shared purpose," Chila said. "And, once the global health crisis has abated and life is more normal, gamification is a very effective tool for engaging audiences at trade shows and other live events."

Who is Using Gamification?

ViewPoint has designed an array of business-themed digital games for companies like Ingram Micro, NEJM and AIA — from quiz-style games to interactive team-building exercises. And many firms that initially created large-format games to drive traffic to trade show booths or pique interest at other types of live events have adapted them to laptops and iPads to serve the needs of their newly remote audiences.

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is develop tools that help people understand what architects do and how they make a difference in their communities,” said AIA Vice President-elect Peter Exley, FAIA. To that end, AIA called on ViewPoint Interactive Solutions to create a tablet-based game called Build the Block, which asks players to design a major city building. 

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AIA's Build the Block game (L-R above).

Some of our other gamification projects include Ingram Micro's logistics game, in which players race against each other to deliver packages globally; Beckman Coulter's virus-hunting game, which has the option to be played using the connected shooter that fires suction-cup darts; and NEJM's quiz-style medical diagnostics game for physicians. Here's a look.

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Ingram Micro's package-delivery and logistics game (L-R above).

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Beckman Coulter's Virus Hunter game, which can be played via keyboard or suction-dart shooter control (L-R above).

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NEJM's medical diagnostics game presented on a large touchscreen (above).

According to MarketsandMarkets, the global gamification market is expected to top $30 billion by 2025. If you're thinking of developing a business-focused digital game for your organization, ViewPoint can help.

Stephanie Van Ness

Assoc. Director of Marketing and Chief Storyteller at ICS, Boston UX and ViewPoint Interactive Solutions

An experienced copywriter with a Boston University J-school degree, Stephanie Van Ness writes about user experience (UX) design and innovations in technology, from self-driving vehicles to gesture-controlled medical devices. Her work has appeared in a number of industry publications, including Medical Design & Outsourcing, Mass Device, Connected World,Medical Device + Diagnostics, UX Collective and Prototypr.