GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS: The Role ‘Fun’ Should Play in Banking

My kids can play their Nintendo DS handhelds for hours. We get in the car for a ride and they’ll miss the Washington Monument out their window as long as their DS is powered up.
There’s a lesson in this. (And, no, the lesson is not just that I can work on my parenting skills.)
Games are everywhere, and banks need to take notice. There is a new wave of online ventures that tap what is called “gamification,” broadly defined as using game mechanics in non-game businesses. For an example, check out the site Foodspotting, which publishes photos of particular foods submitted by random folks. This is not a culinary site per se, but a site that focuses on food in a fun manner.
Another example of gamification is The Wall Street Journal’s News Hound quiz on current events. It tests your knowledge of current events — in a game-like manner.
Are banks in on the “gamification” of customer relations? Uh, no, not at all. About the closest banks get to deploying game mechanics is in the way they manage credit card rewards programs – as in, consumers need to figure out the game in order to redeem their points. That’s not really the type of game we’re talking about here, of course.
In my view, there are game-like elements to some of the online PFMs. Seeing what other people are spending their money on tells you whether you’re allocating your dollars wisely. There’s a game in this.
Gamification has made its way into mainstream online business. Consider Groupon. Groupon is a group buying service that really is little more than an email showcasing a deep discount on something. (This morning it was $50 worth of shoes for $25 at Nordstrom Rack.) Groupon hints at the game of finding the deepest discount possible.
I recently heard a presentation by the person who runs Daily Candy, a kind of Groupon just for women, and she said that she expects this game concept to become more pervasive. One service she cited as an example of this is Badgeville, which allows companies to create white-label games to build loyalty or even to be tied to rewards programs. I understand the appeal of transforming a brand into a dynamic thing.

Like any trend, the reality will be less pronounced than the hype. But I still think there is something here for banks, which in particular, are viewed with such disdain by consumers today. A little fun would help.
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2 thoughts on “GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS: The Role ‘Fun’ Should Play in Banking

  1. Great post. During the first wave of e-learning I headed projects where we authored adventure games with simple authoring tools to teach young people the use of cards instead of cash. Currently we are using serious gaming to teach employees how to deal with clients in a branchoffice. The game is even part of the required curriculum.

  2. […] are everywhere, and banks need to take notice,” says JJ Hornblass of Bank Innovation, an industry […]