today I want to talk a little bit about a very interesting topic - the power of games and how fun can manipulate the behaviour. At the beginning I want show some real impressive videos created by VW for the project "The fun theory".
The idea of the site is that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. In this video they try to increase the number of people recycling glass. (Visit the website and you can find two other nice videos.)
As you can see in this video - if you have fun using a system you will use this more often and have a higher satisfaction using it.
Very extensively the game mechanics are used by social networks - for example on flickr, facebook, twitter, youtube, etc. It's possible to collect things (friends, followers, views), to customize you view/avatar and you can rate things or you can get an rating ("Your profile is 90% complete", etc.)
And also for example on ebay as a powerseller you get points and know on which "level" you are.
The following is an interesting presentation from the Google Tech Talks by Amy Jo Kim from January 2009 about "Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to Functional Software" (1h).
Also a nice example is the Google Image Labeler. To label images is a boring work, but now Google tried to make it fun by creating a game out of it (example by John Ferrara - "Extending Game Design to Business Applications" (video) ).
So I think applying game mechanics to applications is really hard to do, but if you can experimenting and test you ideas with users at the end you get a better, more fun product.