Trend 3: Do Good, Earn A Badge

Last year we showcased a number of projects, ideas and services that incorporate the concept of gamification — “the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications”, as Wikipedia describes it. The most prominent example among the location-based apps is undoubtedly Foursquare, the massively used check-in service that managed to hit 5 million users in 2010. Foursquare makes use of classic gamification techniques, such as giving rewarding points to people who check in, and specific badges for special ‘achievements’ such as checking in at three different venues that have a photo booth. In regard to the latter, it is interesting to mention the team-up between Foursquare and running app RunKeeper to reward sporty people for running 5Ks and marathons with special badges. Other relevant and appealing services to mention here are Bunchball and Badgeville, and an increasing number of brands is seeking to engange customers with their products through implementation of game techniques.

That brings me to Nike+ GPS, another great gamification example that was a huge success in metropolitan areas around the world, thanks to a special marketing campaign. The Nike running app tracks all runs and stimulates users to challenge themselves to take their runs further. Work-outs can be synced and saved directly on Nike+ profiles from iPhone and iPod Touch, where also a bunch of graphically presented statistical information is made available. An extraordinary gamification examples is Xtreme Xrunch Kart, “the world’s first ever carrot-crunch-powered video game”. Developed by Bolthouse Farms, the game is part of their marketing effort to make carrots as popular with the kids as junk food. The only way to speed up your rocket-powered shopping cart is to crunch some baby carrots a few inches from the microphone of the iPhone. (Check it out for yourself here.) Another remarkable example of gamification is the productivity app Epic Win, which is a to-do list with a role-playing spin. “Rather than just mentally ticking off your chores, completing each one improves and develops your character in an on-going quest to level-up, gain riches, and develop skills.”

If you are interested in learning more about the rapidly developing gamification trend, you should visit the Gamification Blog, or the gamification section on VentureBeat. For a brief and somewhat more critical tour through gamification I would recommend checking out the presentation ‘Pawned: Gamification And Its Discontents’ by researcher and game designer Sebastian Deterding.

This article belongs to the Top 10 Trends For 2011. Over the last year we have been writing articles about urban culture and innovations in cities on a daily basis. Reflecting on 2010 and looking into 2011 we have put together a list with ten of the most remarkable trends that we spotted. We would like to deepen them out a little in a series of articles published this week on Pop-Up City.