One of the biggest neglected fields in social media is the world of games. Just a few numbers to give an impression; In 2013 Worldwide there were 1.23 billion gamers according to newzoo, in 2014 even 1.4 billion according to gamersnexus. According to latest research they expect this year a market growth over 9%, which means that the money that is involved in the gaming industry will be over $91.5Bn this year.

Overcome difficulties
Actually I don’t want to talk about games, but about gamification. This is when you start to use game-principles into real life to learn life-skills or simply make life more enjoyable. This is a rapidly growing field, because it is proven that adding those principles to reality is helping to overcome difficulties or to learn something essential.

A great example of gamification is Nike+. This is a running app – actually a running community – of Nike that claims to be the first game that is powered by your everyday movement. On a personal level it challenges the user to be commitment to running and on a broader level it connects like-minded people through the social component of this app.

Can you imagine having people play a game and learn kingdom values along the way?

The beautiful part of the Nike+ example is that Nike started to understand that their message was way better understood when it was not about them, but when they started to support the life story of their customer: people wearing running shoes! Fact is that more people than ever before were engaged in running AND buying Nike running shoes. Nike became relevant for the running community.

The only reason for me to write about gamification is that I believe that those principles are also useful in a lot of ministries I consult. How do we communicate kingdom values to our personas? If we try to answer this question from an online perspective and talk about social media, you also need to consider the benefits that games and gamification can bring.

Psychological drivers
In her book ‘reality is broken; why games make us better and how they can change the world’, Jane McGonigal is describing four psychological drivers that are fundamental for people to be engaged into different games. Especially very interesting to read when you realize you grow up in a world where the average young person will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of twenty-one.

What are those four drivers?

1- Satisfaction: games give clear missions and satisfying hands on work.
2- Success: Games let you feel powerful and eliminate our fear or failure and improve our chances of success.
3- Social connectivity: games build stronger social bonds and lead to more active social networks which lead to a subset of positive emotions.
4- Significance: Games help you to become part of something bigger than ourselves.

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Like Jane McGonigal, I do believe reality is broken. I do believe that there is something that is bigger than us where you and I can become part of or already did. From my perspective there is a great opportunity to step into as ministries. Can you imagine having people play a game or are in a gamificated situation where they are becoming part of something bigger than themselves and learn kingdom values along the way?!

Count me in!

Image Front view by Morten Liebach on (common creative)

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