Editor's note: Susanna Warnock is assistant professor of business, Piedmont College, Walker School of Business, Demorest, Ga. J. Sumner Gantz is an MBA student, Piedmont College, Walker School of Business.
Judging by the number of survivalist reality shows – Naked and Afraid, Survivor, Ultimate Survival Alaska, etc. – there is no shortage of 20-40-year-olds willing to be seen on national television struggling to survive – literally!
Now try to find a 20-40-year-old to participate in a survey and you might be better off asking them to strip down and starve themselves for three weeks on television. The survey research industry has gotten a bad reputation of endlessly torturing participants with bad questionnaires – a reputation that is leading to declining response rates and the threat of non-response bias.
Gamification has been discussed as a possible solution to the challenge of reluctant respondents. The idea is simple: make the task of completing surveys less onerous by incorporating more game-like elements to make providing information feel less like an invasive exam and more like a fun and entertaining way to pass time.
There is no standard template for gamified surveys or even a set of accepted gamification techniques from which to draw. Some companies tout proprietary software that is designed with avatars and storylines to mimic a videogaming experience while collecting data. Other researchers have focused on updating the functional features of traditional survey questions (slider scales, card sorts and so forth). Still others have experimented with changes in the wording of questions (incorporating projective techniques, for instance) or with providing overarching narratives to the survey experience (a press conference in which the questions are asked by hypothetical reporters, for instance). The anecdotal evidence from this wide range of gamification in surveys suggests that the techn...