As a gamification consultant, I have been working with clients for more than a year now. Started in October 2012, the journey has been a great learning experience for me. Though, I was adept with gamification knowledge, but the practical knowledge of designing and implementing a gamification design came with the projects that I did. A critical learning was, it is always beneficial to onboard the client, whom you are consulting in your gamification conceptualization phase. Onboarding may not be of all the people in the client organization–as explaining to each member can take a large chunk of your valuable time– even a single person who understands the clients business will serve the purpose.
When a client brings the project, generally we understand their business and work on the contracted work. Since, gamification is a very new phenomenon, and the clients to whom I talk to, they have a very superficial understanding of the process. They understand PBLs (Points, Badges and Leaderboards) as a magic pill which will bring business to them, as soon as they are implemented. This superficial understanding of gamification leads to an improper transfer of the concept to the client if he/she is not involved, and it becomes disastrous even leading to failure of your hard worked gamification design.
If you take the client with you in the conceptual journey, before executing your design, it will help the client to understand that it is not just a simple implementation of PBLs, but there is a meaning attached to the points or badges which are awarded for some meaningful activity. The flow that you experience as a gamification consultant while designing the gamification system for the client, needs to be felt by the client as well. It also helps the client to understand, why a particular number of points are needed on a certain activity while others activities demand different points. In addition onboarding of the client helps in the communication phase, as the person from the clients’ organization whom you took in this journey, better understands the internal communication jargons, hence you can leverage on his/her skills to make more meaningful communication with other members of the client organization.
Finally, it makes your final presentation to the client more meaningful; every now and then I come across clients that are more interested in the visual part of the gamification, i.e. how the badges will look like or how the leaderboard will function. I strongly feel, there is still a lot of conceptual misunderstanding, which acts as a hinderance between you and the client to communicate effectively, and it can only be removed when the client is working with you. Then only they will understand the nuances of a gamification design and not limit themselves to trivial stuff in the conceptualization phase of gamification.