Gamification in the Real World: VW’s Experiment With Fun

Remember Big, the movie with Tom Hanks about a kid who grows into an adult’s body but keeps his 12-year-old mind? There’s a great scene where he and Robert Loggia, playing the CEO of a toy company, play Chopsticks on a big-ass piano keyboard built into the floor of a toy store in New York.

In Stockholm, a group of folks took a similar approach to encouraging people to climb stairs. They installed a working keyboard on a flight of steps at the Odenplan metro station, and soon people all but abandoned the escalator in favor of banging out surreal tunes on their way to the street.

It’s part of the Fun Theory, a program by Volkswagen to see if you can change people’s behavior by making things fun. So, walking up stairs is more fun when you’re stomping on a keyboard. Throwing trash into a trash can is more fun if it sounds like it’s falling into a deep pit. Recycling bottles is more fun if the recycling bin is an arcade game. Basically, it’s gamification in the real world.