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Digital Transformation

Adding Gamification Concepts to Sitecore

Lately the topic of gamification has been getting a lot of press.  Even here on the Perficient blogs, we’ve had some great gamification posts and white papers, covering a full spectrum from specific technology platforms (IBM Connections), entire solutions (Intranet) to the broad industries (Healthcare).  As an avid gamer, I love that something I have had a major interest in since I was a child, and invested countless (seriously, countless) hours doing could have some legitimate business applications.  (Quick side note:  When I say countless, I mean it – the best man at my wedding basically designed his entire speech around how much I loved….video games.  Truthfully, I’d probably consider myself an expert in the area of gaming.)   I’ve personally always enjoyed games because I feel they give a great escape from the daily grind of real life.  I also feel that when playing games, I am presented with a challenge that I am both invested in and can also have the direct ability to control an outcome so that it is a desirable one.  What company would not want their employees to be more invested in achieving desirable outcomes?   I think that is where the power of adding gamification concepts to business applications could have a profound impact.

For anyone who’s unaware, the term gamification relates to applying gaming concepts to something that is not a game. states: Gamification typically involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification has been called one of the most important trends in technology by several industry experts. Gamification can potentially be applied to any industry and almost anything to create fun and engaging experiences, converting users into players”

So, with all the talk of gamification and how it can be used to increase employee effectiveness and morale, it got me to thinking – could Sitecore use some sort of gamification system?  Would Sitecore be a better product if its users could earn badges, or achievements or increase their “Sitecore level”?  I think these are questions that require some serious thought.  I’ll try to delve into some of my initial reactions to the questions here, but I’d really love to hear from the Sitecore community – both developers and business users, about what they think about gamification and Sitecore.

My first thought as a gamer and a Sitecore developer is: hey, what a great idea, why not?  After all, Visual Studio just got some badges that developers can earn, why not Sitecore?  That presents another question – would Sitecore badges be more effective if they targeted Developers, or Business Users?  Perhaps we need sets that target each?  My opinion would probably be that it might be useful to target both sets, but the majority of the badges should be to encourage Business Users to utilize the tool in the most effective way, as well as to explore all the different functionality that Sitecore provides.  My experience is that good developers are more apt to learn and explore software on their own, and don’t necessarily need any extra incentive to do so.  Some business users are certainly comfortable doing this on their own as well, but just as many, if not more, are apprehensive about software and may be too intimidated to go outside of their comfort zone without any type of prompting.  Could earning badges be that prompting that causes users to be better at their jobs?

Let’s not forget the word “effective” in my last question about who to target – adding gamification principles to anything business related shouldn’t be done because it’s the “cool, in-thing” to do right now.  They should be added because their inclusion is going to provide true value – measurable value, we hope.  After all, if we can’t create measurable statistics that show that the inclusion of badges or achievements has improved the usage of the tool, then the concept of gamification as relating to business applications is doomed to be nothing more than a passing fad.  For a specific example relating to effectiveness, if you look at the Visual Studio badges I referenced earlier, some of them are achieved by performing what would be considered “not best practices”. I question if that’s a good thing – and then I answer my own question by saying “No, it is not at all a good thing”.  Why should anyone be “rewarded” by doing something in a way that would not only not be recommended, but also often chided by anyone with experience?  If we can’t determine Sitecore achievements that improve the efficiency, effectiveness, or knowledge of the tool, then I have to admit I would not be in favor of a marriage of Sitecore and gamification.

Furthermore, continuing along the lines of effectiveness – I do worry that gamification principles in any software can distract its users from the true purpose of the software.  The achievements have to be thought out not only to help promote proper usage and exploration of the software, but they must also be careful not to become the main focus.  Sitecore is not a toy – if people become more invested in achieving that next badge, or level and less invested in using the tool to create awesome, powerful websites, then the inclusion of the achievements is detrimental to the product.  So – could we come up with not only effective achievements, but achievements that promote the underlying purpose of Sitecore and do not detract from it?

I’ve asked a lot of questions in this post.  In fact, I’ve probably asked more questions than provided answers to the topic of marrying gamification principles and Sitecore.  I hope  through these questions and my initial opinions, I’ve spurred some thoughts in others so that we can create a discussion on this very topic.  I’ll leave you with my judgment as it is right now (and I do believe my overall opinion is still forming). I think adding achievements, badges and / or levels to Sitecore could be a powerful addition – as long as they are well thought out and implemented, and have the correct goal in mind as they are added.

Please feel free to comment on this post, I would love to hear it.  (Until then, I’ll be saving Earth from the Reapers!  Long live Commander Shepard!)

Thoughts on “Adding Gamification Concepts to Sitecore”

  1. Hi Jamie, Thank you for this blog post. What a great and interesting idea. I think it could be a great way to encourage business users to learn more ways to use Sitecore.


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Jamie Stump

My name is Jamie Stump, and I am a Senior Sitecore Consultant at Perficient. I was honored to be named one of only 42 2013 Sitecore MVP’s worldwide. I specialize in Sitecore Architecture and Development and my broad Sitecore experience includes Sitecore installation, configuration and CEP development, including custom DMS implementations for clients. I have implemented Sitecore solutions for a number of industry verticals including manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, advertising and retail. In addition to architecting and implementing Sitecore sites and eCommerce solutions, I also work with other Microsoft Technologies, including the .NET platform and SQL Server. You can read through my older Sitecore related blog posts here and my newer ones here. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Development from York College of PA. I am originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, and still reside there with my wife, son, English bulldog and 2 cats.

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