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Govenrment or "the authority" is no fun, not worth while and just a pain when we interact with them. At least this is the standard comment from everyone I've talked to on the subject (and at the age of 45, that's a lot of people).

If that image (of the authority) where to be changed, one possible option would be to implement gamification when you meet the government and the state in every sense. You could get a "Patience is a virtue"-badge when the passport police had you waiting for over an hour in July for applying for a passport, or you could earn a "Lightning McQueen"-badge of you registered last year tax the first possible day.

It would be more fun, but would it be trusted? Could it have the opposite effect and leading users to not do their fair share of government interaction. Has this been tested somewhere? I don't know - but I want to know. Is it possible?

Would the concept of Gamification be a bad idea in Government?

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I get a "I Voted Today!" sticker every year at election time. Is that gamification? –  Eric King Dec 30 '13 at 22:20
    
@EricKing I think so. To me it looks like a badge, even if it's a sticker. But would you have voted even if you didn't get the sticker? –  Benny Skogberg Dec 30 '13 at 22:22

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Some of the aspects of introducing 'fun' (as well as other psychological motivators) lie behind the rationale for the UK Government having a Behavioural Insights Team

The redesign of the UK Government information portal is based on UX principles and has a more Web 2.0 feel than the previous version.

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Browsing these links on phone is a joy in UX! Thanks! –  Benny Skogberg Jan 1 at 8:53

Gamification is about using UX design with game mechanics and dynamics to increase participation and engagement of users, so I think it's actually ideal in many ways for public sector and civic use. Calling it ¨Gamification" may be the blocker to adoption in the government or enterprise context. Who wants to be ¨gamed¨ by the government? That aside, there are many cases where a more compelling and modern UX would be offered by gamification principles and affordances for both end users and the operators of the site. For example, eGovernment, eHealth, eEducation would all benefit. Younger citizens would be more engaged, and a simpler UX would work for older ones too.

Check out the UK govt's digital service strategies, for example: http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

And

"We aim to deliver cool services through engines around things like gamification. There are fantastic ways of connecting communities and populations together. Britain will soon be the most open government in the world in terms of open government and data" (Source: http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2241261/exclusive-government-digital-services-set-for-social-makeover)

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I have not seen this in Australian government websites, and in fact most of the government websites are only currently going through a transition to adopt more web 2.0 technologies and embracing UX design principles on a deeper level. I guess the nature of government websites is informational, so designing it to be more 'fun' when most of the people interacting with it are likely to be a good mix of business and general public is unlikely to help them achieve their purpose/goal for visiting the site quickly. I think it is the same idea as making going to the dentist or the tax account more fun - in the end people just want to get it over and done with and get out of there...

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I would also consider using gamification for proactive usage of internal government applications that helps make the processes more efficient in time and extra points for helping out people.
E.g. reputation points to a tax official that finds out that a citizen is entitle to a tax reduction and completes the process for that citizen. The system could give prizes to the top reputation gainers per period.

This could help make governments more friendly to their peoples and less Brazil (1985)-like.

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Since governments are broadly in the business of managing human behaviors, gamification is certainly one of the tools they might use. A couple years ago, Volkswagen sponsored a design contest to solicit creative solutions to civic problems (see http://www.thefuntheory.com/). Most of the winning ideas used aspects play to encourage better behavior.

As long as the rules and results of the games are clear and consistent people will trust them. If the games have enough depth and dimensions to reward mastery, people will play them again and again. And most governments have a longstanding precedent for gamification: it's called the tax code.

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