New York, NY, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- July 17, 2013 - “Gamification”, or the application of games to offer fun, friendly competition, is the next engagement frontier for energy providers for engaging communities, consumers and employees, according to Accenture.

In its New Energy Consumer Handbook, Accenture says that over the past 30 years, video games have become increasingly interactive and engaging. With the advent of social media, smartphones and interactive web technologies, games have also moved squarely into the mainstream. For example, in 2011, consumers spent more than 300 million minutes per day playing the mobile game Angry Birds. While popular games may come and go, the trend is clear – gaming is now big business, and also no longer just child’s play.

As such games represent a significant new tool for addressing many of the most pressing challenges facing energy providers today. The availability of more granular energy usage data and the ability to easily control consumer energy devices, energy management and conservation are well-suited to gamification. Thus gamification – literally the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to engage users and solve problems – combined with the rollout of smart technology offers a powerful new way to create an excellent consumer experience and encourage conservation behavior.

Some examples are:

  • The Gaming for Good initiative, a partnership between Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and PSFK, asked people to design innovative gaming applications to address sustainability and climate change challenges, generating more than 60 entries from around the world.
  • British Gas’s EnCon CITY© demonstrates the benefits of conservation by teaching players how energy is consumed and where it might be wasted.
  • Danish energy firm Vestforbrænding and advertising agency Anew created a pizzeria whose output depended on the amount of energy being saved by local residents. Consumers were first sent information on steps they could take to reduce energy usage, and energy consumption was then measured over a period of time. The less energy consumers used, the more free pizzas were available at the pizzeria.
  • San Diego Gas and Electric and Simple Energy launched the San Diego Energy Challenge in which consumers could compete against each other to reduce their energy consumption during the summer months, when air conditioners, pool pumps and other seasonal devices can put significant strain on the energy system.

Organizations that succeed at game-based engagement will consider the following guidelines, Accenture says:

  • Emphasize the right results
  • Shorten the feedback loop
  • Create social connections
  • Provide incentives
  • Define achievable challenges.