In its simplest form, gamification is a tool that helps us survive reality. Because no matter how smart your three-old daughter is, she can be motivated. Enter the gamification of breakfast.
Before the implementation of any gamification, you must have a clear goal in mind. In my case study, it was to make sure my daughter eats breakfast (measured by number of cheerios) within the given timeframe allocated in the morning (measured by being late from daycare). Preferably with minimum whining (measured by blood pleasure).
Daughter, twin-a, aged 3. Likes cheerios generally but has no concept of time. She can count but preferred numbers appearing more often than others. Like #6.
Gamification is all about the affecting domain. It’s all about the human. The experience. The perceived value of excitement. It’s not about content, platform, facts and bullet points and repeated instructions. Not even about the convincing “you need to eat, otherwise Jack (in pre-K) will be smarter than you are.”
My gamification was based on the fact that my daughter cares about others. And that “others” include not only humans but even cheerios with feelings.
Take a piece of paper. Large enough to cover the table. Make circles on them. Each circle has a number. Place cheerios inside the numbers. Some guidance on this. Put only ONE in the first circle. Gradually raise the number. Overall, it should be the same breakfast amount.
Rules are simple. You can only eat the cheerios in order of the circles. You must start with #1 and all cheerios must be consumed before you get to the next circle. Now, I loosely applied something here what math geek may call the “Principle of Mathematical Induction”.
To butcher this theory into cheerios, I can prove that my theory works by showing that it holds for the base case (daughter eats #1) AND that assuming that it holds for any case (after eating any #), it is evident that the she will eat the next circle (induction step).
In other words, I have to make her eat the #1 AND somehow I have to make sure that after each number, she’s engaged enough to start eating the next circle.
After consulting some Dr. Phil episodes on the matter, here’s what I told her about the gamification breakfast:
“That one lonely cheerio in number one is sad. Can you eat it?” (base case). She did. While she was eating #1, I introduced the induction step: “Oh, #2 is getting excited.”
How could you stop at #1 when all the cheerios in #2 are now getting excited? You would break their heart, right?
The gamification worked so well that we had to increase the number of circles and cheerios. Not only that but we were not late anymore from daycare.
Ever since, when in the family we’re anticipating something good to happen, we have an inside joke that “#6 is getting excited”.
Gamification is often talked about in terms of platforms and enterprise solutions. Please keep in mind the human element! Let’s get #6 excited!