Gamification of the London Games: How Social Media is Making the Olympics an Experience Everyone Can Take Part In
How to Win When Everything’s a Game
Organizers, media and enthusiasts alike have deemed the 2012 London Olympic Games the world’s “first social games.” In April, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the creation of The Olympic Athlete’s Hub—a headquarters for all digital communications between our enthusiastic devotee (and often couch-dwelling) selves and the athletes who inspire us.
(I don’t know about you, but had I stumbled upon The Olympic Athlete’s Hub a month ago, I’d have back the hours spent trolling the web for the public Twitter lists and individual accounts of my favorite athletes…)
What’s more, the hub includes a gamification element, further incentivizing fans to interact with the site. So what does this mean for the future of sport—as a fan and an athlete? How are social media and gamification making this Olympics an experience that everyone can take part in, even if we aren’t ticket-holding patrons in London?
The IOC has structured social media guidelines for athletes and volunteers, but encourages those in the trenches of the games to post, blog and tweet their experiences. By aggregating Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, foursquare and Google+ feeds of well over 2,000 Olympians, (Source: Mashable), The Olympic Athlete’s Hub will facilitate for the first time a means for athletes to not only connect with their adoring fans, but also to each other.
Playing Games at Work
It only makes sense that gamification, defined as the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance various contexts, has come full circle and now enhances the greatest games of all. At Text100, we’re exposed to a gamified workplace on a daily basis. Whether it’s through our internal digital certification process in which badges are awarded for each milestone achieved in boosting individual mastery of social media, or working with clients to implement game techniques for enhanced interactions with their audience, Texties are familiar with the benefits.
Meeting the gamification trend head on, for example, is one of our newest clients to the San Francisco office, Course Hero. Course Hero, an online provider of learning resources, is engaging college students in its online learning community by using game mechanics from Bunchball, the market leader in gamification. With badges, leaderboards and social sharing that all culminate in real-world rewards, Course Hero is making learning cool again (Source: GigaOM).
Bringing It Home
Thanks to gamification, spectators and players are now active participants in the games they watch and the games they play. During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the iPhone was just one year old. Now, four years later, gone are the days of booking it to the student center to catch Michael Phelps freestyle down the center lane. Gone are the days of wondering of what his pre-event meal consists (it’s “lots of pizza and pasta”). Gone are the days of having to wait for the evening news to catch the replay of the infamous miracle finish for gold medal number seven.
Today, we can take Michael with us everywhere we go with live streaming and social media interactions on our mobile devices. And, thanks to the gamification techniques implemented by the IOC, we’re now a bigger part of the conversation. As gamification harnesses the motivational power of games and applies it to real-world problems, this year’s Olympics will prove to be the most inclusive games yet.