Pete Jenkins, the entrepreneur turning your job into a game

We all know how addictive computer games can be. Days and weeks can be lost to imaginary worlds like Fortnight or World of Warcraft.

But what if the addictive nature of games could be transferred to more productive tasks, such as those related to your work? Users would actually enjoy tackling the most gruelling challenges.

That’s the idea behind gamification.

We make experiences like work more game-like!

It’s a concept so powerful that one Brighton entrepreneur abandoned his successful software business to start a gamification consultancy.

“We make experiences like work more game-like!”, explains Pete Jenkins, the founder of Gamification Plus. “The idea is to change their behaviours, and motivate them as a customer to buy more. Or if its a member of staff, to be more productive.”

For example, call centres can run competitions for employees, with leaderboards and performance prizes, to turn repetitive tasks into something exciting, motivating and enjoyable.

Customers can win badges and unlock levels to give them a sense of achievement as they use the product more, which keeps them coming back. A popular example is the restaurant booking service OpenTable, which awards points for each booking that customers can then redeem for a dining cheque. OpenTable offers bonus points to encourages customers to try a new venue, or book tables during off-peak hours.

Gamification encourages users to explore different features of the software, because the more you explore, the more comfortable you are.

Pete says almost anything can be improved by harnessing the principles that make games so fun. Especially software.

“Gamification encourages users to explore different features of the software, because the more you explore, the more comfortable you are.”

Pete’s enthusiasm for the concept has made him a de facto spokesperson for the industry. He teaches gamification part-time at the University of Brighton and even took over running Europe’s main event in the field. “Every year in Spain for the last four or five years, there was a Gamification World Congress, which is a super cool event. I’ve been a few times and spoken at it. Last year they said it’s not going to happen. Organisers had gone. So, I thought the industry needed one, and with two and half months notice we put it on. The next one is in Amsterdam in November.”

He’s constantly finding new applications for gamification. Currently, he’s looking at how it can be used to manage employee performance.

“There’s interesting stuff you can do with goal-setting, and feeding back to people how good they are at their jobs, and telling them where they could improve.”

Customer retention is another great area.

“There’s a loyalty card programme we are working with for 400,000 people. It’s about taking loyalty programmes to the next level, so people have more interactions, and spend their points rather than just saving them up.”

As a seasoned entrepreneur and analyst of optimal design, Pete found Tide a perfect match for Gamification Plus. “I loved signing up and joining Tide. I constantly tell people about how it was a Sunday. I just got my passport out, scanned that and five minutes later the application process was done, and the card arrived in the post a few days later. And it was all up and running.”

His ambition is to show how gamification can improve worklife, and help consumers make the most of the goods they buy. As games like Railroad Tycoon and Flight Simulator 3 prove, we can get hooked on anything if the design is right.

With Pete’s way there’s a valuable end product, beyond bloodshot eyes and lost weekends.

Visit Gamification Plus’ website here.