What every business can learn from gameification

Gameification is a philosophy that has risen to stardom over the past few years. The theory goes that by adding game-like elements to an activity such as exercise, chores, or in this case, stock trading increases engagement and provides a more educational experience. We got to sit down with Robbert Bos, chief product officer of BUX about gameification and how it can help your business.

Before we get started with the “harder” questions, could you briefly describe your offering; who it’s aimed at, how you came up with the idea, and what problem it solves.

The founder of BUX, Nick Bortot, used to be an executive board member at one of Europe leading online brokers. During his time there he found that even though a lot of people are interested in trading, most people actually don't. When asked, the usual answers were always either one or multiple of the following reasons:

  • "It's too difficult to set up an account”
  • "I don't know what stock to trade"
  • "There is too much jargon and complexity on the platform, I don't understand half of it"
  • "It requires too much capital and it's too expensive"

This is how he came up with the idea for BUX, he wanted to make trading affordable, understandable and accessible to all.

BUX is a mobile only service that offers trading on the main international markets in an extremely accessible way. Pretty much anybody with the slightest interest in business, economics and/or finance can get started with BUX.

What’s particularly interesting about BUX is the gameification of the stock market, that allows users to “play” with fake currency to understand how the stock market works before committing real money.

What does “gameification” mean to you and what makes it an effective model?

Gamification has been around for a while and is often used in the context of helping people achieve certain goals by using game-like mechanics. We believe that the way we've applied gamification to our app helps users understand the stock market without the intimidating complicated jargon.

For example, financial leverage, a somewhat complex financial mechanic that can accelerate returns in both a positive and negative way is perceived as a scary element of trading. That is why we think people should experience this first using virtual currency before trying it out with real money.

We're going to take this a step further by only allowing newbies access to certain features and functionality and “force” them to learn about more advanced features first before they can play the stock market with real money. So gamification for BUX is primarily a means to educate users.

Of course BUX also has some other playful elements such as BUX Battles. Although this feature initially was intended as an additional fun element, we’ve seen a lot of interaction in the Battle chat between newbies and highly experienced traders. Gurus were teaching newcomers how to use the app and at the same time exchanging notes on stocks with their peers. So by offering a social channel users are learning from each other as well.

Following on from that do you think gameification is an effective learning tool? And how can businesses leverage gameification to enhance their staff’s training?

Absolutely! By providing goals for tasks (other than boss-mandated training) people tend to be more engaged. Solving a problem is much more fun when you know there is a reward.

It's similar to how kids learn. Somehow adults at some point decided that training is a serious thing. I believe a joyful experience is a much more memorable than one that is done just to tick a box. Have fun, learn and become better at whatever you're trying to achieve.

In several interviews I’ve conducted some in the industry take issue with “gameification” as a term because it treats the education provided as a very basic trial-reward loop e.g. Do x, get a treat, rather than showing users what they've been taught.

What does Bux teach it’s users and how does it feedback to users to effectively play “the game” of the stock market better?

The main goal of BUX is not just to make people rich by trading. It's to provide people with an interest in the markets with a platform that is easy to understand and convenient to use while educating them about the risks and the rewards of trading.

Unfortunately the trial-reward loop doesn't apply to BUX. Markets are unpredictable so we let users experience it using virtual currency first. As they progress we try to provide the tools necessary to make an informed decision about their trades.

We offer them easy to digest news about stocks and the economy, social features to get trading inspiration from, basic charts and company details and alerts on all kinds of events to stay up to date. In the end, we think that with our app it's not just the return on investment that counts but it's also the joyful and educational experience.

A big thanks to Robbert for agreeing to do the interview, if you have any questions about gameification leave them in the comments section below.