Friday, February 10, 2012

Gamification: Does it Have a Place in the Automotive World?

Earning achievements for tasks

Unlocking achievements, badges, perks, comparing your score with your friends...all of these are concepts of gamification, which is slowly creeping its way into every aspect of our lives.
I can attest to the addictive nature of it, seeing as how I use FourSquare constantly. Every time I check in to a new restaurant or public place, my phone tells me how many virtual "points" I've earned, and how I stack up to my friends who are also on the site. What does that make me want to do? Why, visit more places to beat my friends of course!

As consumers, we already see some examples of gamification already, when it pertains to the automotive world. Ever get a flyer in the mail from a dealership that has a scratch off sheet, or a key attached that could possibly unlock the door of a new car that you can win? Those are both examples, albeit on the sales side of things. However, more and more companies are using gamification to make doing what we often assume are mundane or repetitive tasks more fun. Thinking about this gave me an idea- could the concept of it be used in the car world as an educational device to help make better drivers out of everyone?

Imagine the following hypothetical scenarios:

A. You're driving a new Toyota and the Entune display has an option to show you how efficient you're driving. It is able to record how much MPG you're getting, and measure how often you are slamming the brakes or accelerating too fast (resulting in decreased fuel efficiency). Then, it takes the data collected from you and awards you points for driving your car optimally. You could unlock badges such as the "Green Machine" for driving, say,  X amount of miles without having to fuel up your car. Or you could get points for utilizing other hypermiling techniques. The system can compare how well you're driving with your friends or other strangers across the country, giving you a sense of friendly competition.
Best of all, the virtual points you earn could then be used as some sort of virtual currency, perhaps allowing you to save a bit of money on getting your vehicle serviced in the future, or go towards a donation to charity.

B. What if traffic cameras instead turned into a speeding ticket lottery? Where abiding by  the law could earn you a bonus that those who break the law would have to pay. This would give drivers the incentive to slow down and create less accidents as a result of positive reinforcement. The stipulation could be that every driver who doesn't get a traffic violation during the year gets an entry, and there can be one or multiple winners drawn who get a percentage of the revenue generated.

Do you think the trend of gamification should spread into more aspects of our lives?

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