3 things VR won’t disrupt in Gamification

virtual_reality_by_thomaswievegg-d7q1cx1_headerSource: thomaswievegg

The future applications for Virtual Reality appear awesome. Healthcare, Education, Gaming and of course Gamification ‘appear’ to be ripe for disruption. VR’s ability to create almost any virtual environment you can imagine/code might be a Gamification game-changer: VR could deliver environments and simulations that could redefine how we increase engagement, new and tools for measurement and increase our assessment capabilities. At the very least it could become a powerful tool in Gamification’s commitment to “making everyday non-gaming environments fun and engaging” (Huib Langbroek.

Right now though it’s impact in certain areas will be limited. In some areas it will cause little to zero disruption (at least for the foreseeable future). Before I single out three particular areas I want to make something clear:

I consider the biggest barrier to VR’s mass adoption to be simple economics.

The prices of the leading VR headsets are extremely expensive. The cost for a PC or a console that meets the requirements to power these headsets are prohibitive. Yes production, competition and mass adoption will decrease the prices over time but not nearly as quickly as many might hope. The three particular areas VR will have minimal to no disruption are:

Stars and Badges

The ‘bread and butter’ of the Gamification industry, that being the systems of engagement for websites, forums etc, won’t be disrupted by VR. I’m not saying it won’t be in the distant future. I’m just saying right now it isn’t going to happen. These Gamification systems are primarily single screen user experiences delivered through either a computer system or mobile device. Perhaps in 50 years time when everyone has VR we’ll see these systems modified and implemented in a Avatar driven web experience. For now though it the impact will be minimal to zero change.

The Methodology

VR might deliver new ways to engage and more tools to measure but what it won’t disrupt is the core academic focus and methodology of Gamification. Our sector has years of research behind it – much of it focused on the user and not the ‘delivery system’. What Gamification primarily researches is the human mind, what makes it tick and how to engage with it. VR may give us new insights into this but anyone building Gamification systems for VR will still be heavily reliant on the research and tools from people like Yu Kai ChouGabe Zichermann or our own Huib Langbroek. Psychology first, delivery mechanism second. Virtual Reality will become just another tool in a few researchers toolbox.

Mechanisms of Delivery

VR as a ‘game-changer’ is nowhere near what mobile phones have done. Forget First World.  Think Third World.

village-school-504355_1280Village School Myanmar (Source)

Mobile phones (alongside ever cheaper mobile devices) have forever changed people’s lives for the better. Even in the first world people prefer light mobile devices like Phablets and Surface like devices. If we’re talking offices and schools the vast majority will house simple workhouse machines one or two generations old.

Forgot seeing the expensive of upgrading schools and offices across the world to handle VR – never mind the cost of a VR headset for each user.

My point here is that for Gamification companies like us the mission is to break barriers – not build them.

We’ll use the most effective technologies and platforms that reach as many people as we can. That means using languages like html, java and non-platform specific technology to build our gamified skill assessment games. The same logic applies to any Gamification company seeking to maximize their client base: Mechanisms of delivery will match their target User’s level of technology.

It must be said that VR is not an Equalizer: It cannot effect change on the same scale as mobile devices or the world wide web. It is a singular technology that will be used on a limited scale (globally) by people and institutions with the money and infrastructure to deploy it. That will change (as I said before) when prices drop to an affordable level but a future where VR plays a defining role in Gamification’s primary quest is many years away.

This is the first in a series of short articles looking at new technologies like VR and AR and their impact on Gamification. We would LOVE to hear your comments and suggestions on this and future articles so please have your say below or on our Facebook page.

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