There's a new buzzword starting to kick the tyres of the start-up world, ‘gamification’.
In its most basic form gamification is using different dynamics of games to influence behaviour.
Not convinced? Chances are that you do it on a regular basis already.
If you look at the way these things work then there's a bucket load of real world examples. Happy Hour in your local bar is essentially an appointment game dynamic — if you arrive at a certain location at a certain time then you will get cheap drink.
Gamification has perked the ears of the investors because they have seen the huge potential of altering customer behaviour and increase revenue.
The rise of the check-in apps on your phone, the Foursquares and Gowallas of this world, are essentially games.
It's all about the leaderboard, how many times you check in to a location to become mayor or get rewarded with badges. Seth Priebatsch is the founder and ‘Chief Ninja’ of SCVNGR which is an app that heavily uses game dynamics.
As well as checking in you also have to complete tasks and challenges to gain points. It's a big hit in the US with 500,000 registered subscribers and long string of businesses and universities paying to create challenges to engage with the customer.
The real question is, where is this all going? Jesse Schell, author of the excellent Art of Game Design, paints a picture of the next five to 10 years as one of points-based existence.
Every time you do something you gain points.
We do this already with the likes of the Tesco Clubcard but Schell's predictions take things to a new level.
Brush your teeth in the morning, you get points. Brush them for more than three minutes and you get more points.
Take the bus to work and get points for using public transport which are then redeemed against your tax bill.
In Northern Ireland think about being able to redeem bus points against the road tax you aren't using.
Drink your favourite soft drink, that's more points.
It's an exciting time to be thinking of all this (and yes, I have an idea or seven) and I predict a number of Northern Ireland start-ups dipping their toes into game dynamics to see what can be done.
I know there'll be a number of people who read this and still aren't 100% convinced.
All I can say is that you've been playing the games in real life |for ages, you just may not have noticed. I'd love to hear from anyone who is interested in all of this. Leave a comment at the Twitter address below and I'll give you 10 points each.
Jase Bell is founder of Datasentiment Ltd he can be reached via Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/jasebell