How Gamification can make the world a more sustainable place

Gamification Sustainability

Gamification for a better world

We are living in a world where what we “should” do is often times different from things we “want to” do. This holds true for Sustainability – often times the things you need to do to be sustainable is not necessarily what is the most convenient or comfortable to do.

This is where gamification comes in. So what is gamification? Gamification is the craft of applying all the fun and exciting activities of games, and applying them to non-game serious activities. People have successfully gamified many industries, including education, legal, product design, human resources, and yes, sustainability.

If you dig deep down into games, you will see that most games are simply about doing the same activities – whether it be killing similar monsters, solving new puzzles, or just clicking a button – over and over again for hours.

In the real world, this is called grunt-work.

However, millions of people are addicted to playing games because of the innate design that makes these repetitive tasks fun and exciting: spontaneous results after the completion of tasks, tracking one’s growth and progress in a visual fashion, applying things to a epic meaning and calling, and playing socially with others.

Because of those game mechanics, a player can spend countless days and nights on a game in order to build a better character, prettier avatar, or bigger city. Gamification is simply deriving those fascinating elements within games and applying them into boring activities that make the world better and more productive.

Some of the most common game elements include: points, badges, leaderboards, quests and challenges. These give the users quick feedback and make their progress more visible and entertaining so they can feel motivated in accomplishing their tasks. There are also a variety of Gamification Frameworks out there that are very useful for designing something more holistic.

Gamification can be a powerful tool for sustainability because it can combine meaning with fun by making the process of protecting our planet more entertaining, social and rewarding.

Real World Examples of Gamification

There are many Gamification Examples in Sustainability. Below are a couple examples of how products utilize gamification to move the sustainability envelope forward.

Trash Tycoon: Upcycle and Build a Dream Town of Yours!

Trash Tycoon is an online social network game developed by Guerillapps. It is the first upcycling game on Facebook and has got over 300,000 players within a month since its release. Players in the game can upcycle trash found in the town to create new items that can be sold for game money, which can be used to purchase new items to decorate their town.

Players can also choose to partner up with their friends to clean up trash and create their own dream town. By having players cooperate collectively accomplish tasks bonds the players more closely together.

But unlike other recycling games that are mostly about preaching the importance of recycling, Trash Tycoon is about having fun playing the game with an implicit focus on the education. That is one of the reasons why it attracts so many players because people want to have fun when they play a game.

In addition, Trash Tycoon partners with Treehugger.com by donating 10% of its revenues earned from players’ purchases of . By knowing that playing the game can help the real world gives player a calling to team up friends to be a true hero to create a better virtual and real world.

RecycleBank Makes Recycling Fun and Rewarding

RecycleBank is another good example of implementing recycling through fun. Each year there are over 195 million tons of trash created in the U.S. Most of the trashes need to go into landfills. But the problem is that many of the trashes take over 100 to 400 years to decompose and the availability of the landfills are limited and running out.

In 2010, there were around 1,900 landfills remained. But between 1998 and 2010, there were around 600 landfills being filled, which means that every year, there are 50 less landfills available. According to this diminishing rate, it is not hard to see that within the next 40 years, we would be in huge trouble.

RecycleBank was founded by Patrick K. FitzGerald and Ron Gonen back in 2004. Its mission is to make our world a better place by recycling more waste. It rewards people with redeemable points for recycling their trash, playing quizzes, and saving energy.

People can use the points earned in exchange with goods at places like WalMart, Macy’s, Amazon, and many other places. Currently it has over 300 communities in the U.S. with over 4 million members participating together to recycle their wastes.

Opower: How much Better Can You be at Conserving the Energy?

Our daily life relies heavily on the energy to power the machines we use. In order to produce enough energy for the machines to run, many resources are consumed. Opower company, a privately held company founded by Dan Yates and Alex Laskey in 2007, partners with more than 75 utilities internationally and creates individualized energy reports for more than 15 millions homes around the world.

In the reports it shows the energy consumption for each household and compares that with the neighbors , as well as offers energy saving tips to help households cut down their consumption. The result of peer comparison helped household save 2% in their energy bill.

According to the Opower web, it has helped save over 2 terawatt hours of energy in the U.S. on January 2013. The amount of energy saved on the energy bill is enough to support 2,000 kids through college or to support 40,000 U.S. families with sizes of four people for a year.

There are many more examples of how gamification can help peoples’ lives, even in fields like acupuncture or regions like North Korea. As long as there is human motivation, there is gamification.

Sustainability of a Gamified Life

This planet is ours to protect, whether we feel like it or not. Gamification is a great tool to make people enjoy doing what they have to do for future generations to come, and seeing short-term benefits and rewards while doing it. It empowers everyone to take part in the movement, live a better life, and have fun in the progress.

How can you gamify your life to make it more sustainable?

Posted in _Excerpt, California Student Sustainability Coalition Magazine.