By Alex Malokin, Georgia Tech Student
Gamification slowly but surely filters in many meaningful aspects of our lives. Transportation is not an outlier of this process. Public transit, as a part of transportation, should keep up with this trend to attract and retain riders, especially the elusive millennials.
Gamification is “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users’ self-contributions,” according to Wikipedia. The game itself does not have to be complicated but it has to possess certain elements to become successful: rewards (tangible, think air miles; and intangible, think in-app points, currency, levels, unlocked achievements – a typical “candy crush”-like game), competition (think scoreboards, daily and weekly leaders), and immersion into the process, i.e. concentration on the task, which increases the level of satisfaction and takes mind of time spent on waiting or getting to a destination.
Below, there is a portfolio of interesting examples implemented around the world. It will give you sense of possible techniques and inspiration to get into this topic deeper.
- Waze social driving game: log your trips, report hazardous road conditions, get points and levels, and unlock achievements – a typical pattern for a location-based game. An additional perk is crowdsourcing information that could be used in system optimization. It could be implemented in conjunction with current MARTA apps or as a standalone feature.
- Games could be more inclusive and simple, that is do not require high-tech mediums for implementation. A sticker on a bus window in a shape of some alien monster that seems ready to eat tasty pedestrians could do a trick.
- Waiting for the next train or bus will be more fascinating with a simple ping-pong game that was introduced in at a German pedestrian crossing. There, you are paired with another player across the road, in MARTA settings it could be a passenger across the tracks, waiting for a train in the opposite direction.
- Bike-to-work challenges that happen across the country are a good way to incentivize riders and collect useful travel data at low costs. Similar challenges could be tried with MARTA users.
There are only a handful of examples that will help to start thinking about how to make public transit trip more engaging and pleasant via tapping to our playful human nature.