How serious games can drive business innovation

How serious games can drive business innovation

Businesses may be missing out by not embracing the potential of serious games to drive innovation says Professor Tim Baines from Aston Business School.

Gamification has the potential to transform the training, skill and motivation of staff across all business sections and significantly impact the competitiveness of firms worldwide.

But much of the business community hasn’t yet embraced this innovation, and major gulfs exist between games designers, business leaders, researchers and practitioners.  

What is gamification?

Gamification uses game design techniques in a non-gaming context as a tool to engage employees and customers to change behaviours, develop skills and drive innovation.

The basic difference between actual games and gamification is that a game is an actual product that is made up of gamified activities, whilst gamification is a process that may exist with or without the necessity of a game and its physical environment.

Using gamification successfully

Gamification is often used to add value or an additional challenge to mundane activities. But simply adding points to tasks without having a strategy for giving them value is unlikely to lead to meaningful behavioural change or learning outcomes.

For gamification to be successful, the points need to be given value either in terms of tangible reward or to capitalise on social elements to stimulate collaboration and/or competition.

Accelerating the adoption of gamification

To speed up the adoption of gamification as an education tool, the research, development and business communities need to be brought together to focus on innovations in serious games and gaming techniques for real-life industrial applications.

The first International Gamification Conference in Birmingham will provide a forum for this to happen. Serious games experts from around the world will be meeting to debate the theory and practice of gamification in business on 21 and 22 September 2015.

The conference is hosted by Aston Business School in partnership with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Sheffield), with the support of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

For more information about the conference, go to

Tim Baines is the director of the Aston Centre for Servitization Research and Practice at Aston Business School.

Servitization is the process by which a manufacturer changes its business model to provide an holistic solution to the customer, helping the customer to improve their competitiveness, rather than just engaging in a single transaction through the sale of a physical product.

To find out more about the Aston Centre for Servitization Research and Practice visit