Green Gamification is a concept that combines game elements (gamification) with environmental and sustainable goals (green). It's an approach aimed at engaging people in ecologically responsible behaviors through the use of playful and motivational elements.
Gamification is a strategy that draws from the psychology of games and applies game mechanics, such as points, levels, challenges, and rewards, to non-game contexts to encourage engagement and the adoption of specific behaviors. In Green Gamification, these playful elements are used to promote environmentally sustainable behaviors and conservation of the environment.
For instance, an application could be developed that allows users to earn points or levels by completing low-impact environmental actions such as recycling, energy-saving, or using public transportation. These points could then be exchanged for tangible or digital rewards, creating an incentive to continue participating in sustainable behaviors.
The main goal of Green Gamification is to make the commitment to environmental sustainability fun and exciting, encouraging people to take small steps that, when added together, can have a significant impact on the environment.
However, it's important for Green Gamification to be designed ethically and authentically, avoiding the exploitation of sustainability for purely commercial purposes without a genuine commitment to the environmental cause, as seen in "greenwashing" practices. Green Gamification programs are initiatives that combine game elements with sustainable behaviors to promote environmental awareness and encourage eco-friendly actions.
While the explanation might be straightforward, the process often is not.
As previously mentioned, gamification is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and understanding what will work for your company can be challenging. However, this doesn't mean it's unachievable, and environmental goals are likely suitable for gamification initiatives because they can be broken down into discrete objectives that can still have a significant impact.
Need some inspiration? Here are some examples of companies using gamification to contribute to the planet.
The German software giant, SAP, is using gamification to reduce car emissions and expenses related to company cars. They have developed and released an app, TwoGo, which companies can use to encourage their employees to carpool. Carpoolers can earn points, track their friends' progress, and donate the saved money through the initiative to charities of their choice. Since SAP internally launched the initiative, 20,000 employees have participated, benefiting SAP, its employees, and the environment. A win-win for all.
What can we learn?
SAP states that a key aspect of the initiative's success is its social element. Users are matched based on common interests, and the app is marketed to employees not only as an ecological initiative but also as a way to make friends and network. Connecting social, financial, and environmental benefits helps keep employees engaged and participating in gamification efforts.
Toyota's range of hybrid cars, such as the Prius, uses game mechanics to encourage users to drive more energy-efficiently. In addition to the usual speed and fuel gauges, the Prius displays an energy monitoring screen showing how many miles have been traveled since the last tank refill. The number increases or decreases based on the driver's actions, providing immediate feedback. If you heavily accelerate, you'll see your score drop. This strategy seems to have worked, pushing drivers to beat their previous "high score" every time they use the vehicle.
What can we learn?
Feedback is crucial. By providing immediate and consistent feedback on how driving habits impact both savings and the environment, Toyota ensures that these considerations are never far from drivers' minds. Not all companies produce products suited to Toyota's particular approach, but useful and consistent feedback is a key aspect of any gamification effort.
Citibank is using internal initiatives to enhance employee well-being while reducing the company's environmental impact. Their Step Up initiative encourages more activity and less energy consumption by urging employees to take the stairs. Participants track how many flights of stairs they climb and how many steps they take, and this data is then compared with other Citibank branches worldwide. Overall, staff members took a whopping 8.3 million steps during the latest challenge. Meanwhile, Citi's Drink Up challenge encourages employees to stay hydrated by refilling water bottles, resulting in an average number of plastic bottles the company has avoided using. The company estimates that they've saved around 70,000 plastic bottles this way.
What can we learn?
Gamification doesn't need to be complex to succeed. Citibank's employee initiatives encourage individual, small-scale actions that, when accumulated, have a significant impact.
These are just a few examples of how gamification can be used to promote eco-friendly behaviors. The goal is to make the adoption of more sustainable habits enjoyable and rewarding, thus encouraging positive change aligned with the need for more eco-friendly solutions.
E-Business Consulting, a marketing agency active since 2003, can guide your company in implementing strategic green gamification projects and contribute to educating people about respecting the surrounding environment.