Is the Gamification of Government an Idea Whose Time Has Come?

I have a quick pop quiz for you (with a prize given to those who get all five correct)*:

1. What is the supreme law of the land in the United States?

2. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

3. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?

4. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?*

5. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

The minute you saw the words “pop quiz,” how did you feel? Did you get a little twinge of excitement at the challenge? Did the enticement of a prize get your competitive juices flowing?

If you did (or if you can recall that feeling), you understand the power of gaming and gamification – and you get a sense of how effective it can be as a learning tool.

For me, this raises a question: can gamification work in government?

This question came up as I was reading a recent article by Jeanne Meister in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “How Deloitte Made Learning a Game.” Here’s a quick excerpt:

By using gamification principles, Deloitte has seen use of its Deloitte Leadership Academy (DLA) training program increase. Participants, who are spending increased amounts of time on the site and completing programs in increasing numbers, show almost addictive behavior. Since the integration of gamification in to Deloitte Leadership Academy, there has been a 37 percent increase in the number of users returning to the site each week.

So we know that more people are actually using the online training modules that the company has made available, but does it work for knowledge acquisition and retention?

The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) has been using games in online learning for several years. I had the chance to hear Alicia Sanchez, DAU’s Game Czar (yes, that’s her title) speak at an event last fall (the “Social Learning Boot Camp” hosted by Meister and her team at Future Workplace – their next event is coming up on March 7-8, 2013 where Deloitte will discuss their program). I found this video where Sanchez covers similar material:

In addition, Eric Hackathorn of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), delivered a compelling presentation titled, “How Gamification Can Work in Government” during a Digital Gov University webinar last July and has also teamed up with colleagues to create a Federal Games Working Group that, at least at it outset, involved 23 agencies.

So it seems as if the gamification of government has gained some traction, and I’m curious to find out if your agency or organization has ventured into this territory.

How / Is your organization using gamification? Citizen engagement? Learning?

* I know some of you can’t wait to find out the answers to the questions (all part of the allure of gaming, eh?). If you respond in the comments below and shoot me an email, I will send you some swag if you get all five right. Try to do it without conducting an Internet search! I’ll probably know if you did 😉

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Randy Burkett

1. The US Constitution

2. “We The People”

3. The Bill of Rights

4. Right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

5. 27 Amendments