Media / Philly Tech Week

Grassroots Game Conference: companies to spend more than $2.5B on gamification

Gamification, says expert, author and editor Gabe Zichermann, is all about "changing human behavior."

Gamification, says expert, author and editor Gabe Zichermann, is all about “changing human behavior.”

And Zichermann says companies are willing to shell out big money in order to bend human behavior to their bottom line, Zichermann explained in his keynote, citing a Gartner Group report that said companies will spend more than $2.5 billion on gamification a year.

Zichermann’s keynote for the Gamification for Nonprofits Day of the Grassroots Game Conference offered a comprehensive explanation of gamification to an audience of more than 50 game developers and nonprofit workers gathered at Univeristy of the Arts’ Hamilton Hall.

The day was organized by Nathan Solomon, founder of the Philadelphia Game Lab and hosted by the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy in conjunction with Philly Tech Week, presented by AT&T.

Watch Zichermann define what gamification is — “a constant ongoing process” — and what it isn’t in the video below.


Zichermann explains the three components of a successfully gamified system: feedback, friends, fun.


A panel on engaging communities using gamification followed the keynote. Zichermann was joined by Wharton professors of Legal Studies and Supernova Group founder Kevin Werbach, Hive Learning Network NYC director Kevin Lawrence, RIT professor Stephen Jacobs. The panel was moderated by CultureWorks founder Thaddeus Squire.

Topics discussed spanned the gamut from how to validate real world knowledge gained through game simulations to employing gamification techniques in “serious” industries.

Panelists on the Gamification for Community Engagement and Volunteer Recruitment panel (from left to right), Thaddeus Squire, Kevin Werbach, Chris Lawrence, Gabe Zichermann, Stephen Jacobs.

Attendees were on their own for lunch, but returned to Hamilton Hall for an afternoon of panels more closely focused on applying gamification techniques to fundraising, serious games, and badging platforms. The day closed with a networking reception in the lobby of Hamilton Hall.

Solomon is organizing the week-long Grassroots Game Conference, though he says the reason he designed a whole day dedicated to nonprofits is because his inbox has been flooded with questions about such organizations can use gaming techniques to enhance their work.

“I thought if everyone is interested maybe I can get the best people to really explicitly answer all of these questions and then maybe we can all take the dialogue further,” Solomon said. “And then the entities that are asking can work with more Philadelphia game firms. So, basically, it’s to create more of a market place for game services in Philadelphia.”

The Grassroots Game Conference continues its programming throughout the rest of Philly Tech Week. To see the schedule, click here.

Companies: Corzo Center / Philadelphia Game Lab / University of the Arts

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