Competition, Gratification, and Gamification: Pokemon GO in the Training Industry

Posted by Joan Hudak on 7/15/16 8:30 AM
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With all the hype surrounding one of the most downloaded games in history, we can’t help but wonder if and how Pokémon GO will affect the training industry. Or rather, is there anything that we as trainers can take away from this craze?

Pokémon GO is a GPS-based augmented reality game for smartphones, in which participants (referred to in the game as “Pokémon Trainers”) physically travel to real-world locations to collect items, capture Pokémon (fictional creatures that engage in battles), and battle other Pokémon Trainers’ Pokémon. The goal of the game is to master the aspects of training while battling the fictional creatures to ultimately become a “Pokémon Master.”

And while Pokémon GO is a game, many Pokémon Trainers are taking it very seriously – walking outside at night, carrying additional phone chargers, and travelling to areas that contain more selected locations and Pokémon.
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One can only help but wonder how to encourage this amount of motivation in real-world applications. How can we use this craze to engage reps and enhance how we train?

“I want to be the very best”: Appealing to competitive nature

Around the world, Pokémon GO Trainers are catching Pokémon, earning points, and using their skills to defeat other participants in Pokémon Battles. As we’ve said before, gamification and appealing to reps’ competitive instincts can help enhance how we train. And this is only natural – doing well often results in a reward of some kind, whether monetary or otherwise.

Encourage friendly competition among your reps. Pose small challenges or incentives, be it during training meetings or the average day-to-day. Competing against peers can help bring out a determination to do well and enhance individual performance, which can have a significant impact on the company as a whole.

“I caught a Pikachu!”: Instant gratification for the day-to-day

Pokémon GO incorporates a sort of “treasure-hunting” aspect, as Pokémon Trainers are able to see if any of the creatures are near their current locations, and approximately how far away they may be. Once a Pokémon Trainer encounters a Pokémon, their smartphone will utilize the phone’s camera and display the real-world surroundings with the creature featured on the screen. Pokémon Trainers can then “catch” the Pokémon by swiping their finger on the screen and tossing a Pokéball at them.

pokemon1.pngParticipants will know if they have successfully captured the Pokémon in a matter of seconds – and if successful, they get to keep the Pokémon for the rest of the game. And as a Pokémon Trainer myself, it’s nice to have a physical record of my achievements, and to be able to quantify it for use in the game.

Unfortunately, in the real world this sort of reward or instant gratification for hard work isn’t quite so easy to come by. Sure, it usually exists on a personal level, but oftentimes hard work goes unnoticed – and this can be disheartening, particularly for employees in larger organizations.

Thankfully, it’s not too hard to remind reps that their hard work is appreciated. Did they do something well today? Show them that. Even if it’s a quick, uplifting email, small tokens can work wonders to encourage reps.

“Gotta Catch ‘em All”: Keeping a larger goal in mind

You don’t just “become a Pokémon Master” – it takes patience, learning the language, practicing skills, utilizing resources, and developing a strategy to master the game. Simply downloading Pokémon GO will not earn you a place on the leaderboards. You've got to get out there and make it happen.

Similarly, reps won’t succeed if they just know their products – they need to know how to apply that knowledge if they’re going to succeed. Hold practice sessions. Encourage them to verbalize responses in a low risk environment. Ensure that resources are readily available, and that your reps know how to use them. Develop action plans.

It doesn’t matter as much how they learn these techniques. Everyone has a different style of learning, and what will work for some won’t be as effective for others. The most important thing is to work with your reps to help them develop their own strategy.

Get up and (Pokemon) GO!

Most of us spend the day immersed in technology, seated in front of a screen with a smartphone by our sides. Oftentimes an entire day will go by, and I’ll realize that the only time I stood up was to heat up my lunch.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this game is just how effective it has been at getting participants up and moving - you’ve very likely seen an increase in teenagers and adults out and about near your local landmarks. Pokémon GO encourages participants to explore new places, interact with others, and try new techniques.

So encourage your learners to get up and move! Taking short breaks can help them recharge and regather their thoughts during a busy workday, not to mention inspire creative thinking. And while Pokémon GO has certainly had some issues with participants failing to monitor surroundings, its existence is a reminder that learners are embracing social media and mobile technology at an astonishing rate.

Topics: Augmented Reality Gamification