Is your whole life a game?




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Your bank is probably playing a game with you. Game designers are attracted to give the feeling to customers that saving money is attractive. Customers, or players, can earn points by saving dollars, achieve milestones and many more. Banks use this technique to make personal finance fun. It is debatable if this is ethically appropriate. Banks are cross-selling more products because that will seem to help the customer to get more out of the game. Is this just playing dirty games with vulnerable people, or are banks doing something good by helping customers saving more money?


According to research by global marketing company Upstream, it is very effective to use games, or gamification in marketing techniques. By making a game out of the product which a company wants to sell, they get more attention from potential buyers. The company gets a better connection to the customers this way. But strangely, not many companies are using this technique. This is probably caused by the fact that 64% of the respondents in the study (all marketers) did not know what gamification is. Do you know what it entails? Let’s just give a definition by Wikipedia: “Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.” So this is exactly what the bank, as described earlier, is doing.


Aside from using gamification as a marketing technique, it can also be used as a teaching/learning method. Some teachers use it to tackle real world problems like climate change or poverty. The students are challenged through games to come up with possible solutions for long term problems. Gamification is used in education to motivate students to think about problems. It engages the student more to come up with ideas and it generates more creative ideas that might work even better than solutions found by scientists.


By highlighting the commercial side as well as the noncommercial side of gamification, I personally think that it is a good technique that can be used in many situations. Even though the first paragraph may be perceived as negative, I still think that gamification can bring a lot of positive things for consumers. As for banks, motivating people to save more money is still a good thing, notwithstanding the fact that the bank gets benefits from it too.

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