Gamification of Business Cards

The business card has been around for centuries. For some it is a powerful networking tool. For others, it is an extension of themselves. Often people exchange cards without even looking at the details. Personally, I love the Asian rituals of handing over business cards with two hands, as if it is something sacred being passed from one person to another. In the West, the ceremony of handing over contact details is rather boring. What I see here is an opportunity to gamify that process.

Pick a card, any card!

Magicians and illusionists often say. "Pick a card" before having you select a card from a deck to perform a trick. I use this same phrase to start the business card exchange. It creates a sense of wonder and magic through NLP right away, setting me apart from the rest of the card givers. It also implies that the cards are NOT all the same.

MOO Cards is a fantastic service which allows for easy custom printing of cards with multiple designs on the front and back. I used this as an advantage to create multiple discounts for my online game design course. On one side of the card is all my contact info, and on the other side there is a discount code for my course. The contact info is the same on every card, but the discount changes. The Udemy discount codes range from 10% off to FREE. When a person pulls a card they flip it over to see what discount they got, creating a memorable experience.

The wonderful thing about is that I can easily upload different back designs and one front design, and they techno magically print multiple copies of each in a nice pack for me. Now when I hand out a business card, it turns into a spectacle where people gather around and each want to see if they get the biggest discount. Of course, you need to 'Pay' your own business card to play.

Breaking down the feedback loop

Even thought the ritual of exchanging cards is varies from culture to culture, the feedback loop is the same. Let's break it down.

  • Cue: Information needs to be exchanged.
  • Routine: The giver pulls a single card from a group of identical cards. This is handed to the receiver in exchange for their card.
  • Reward: "Oh nice business card". "I'll call you sometime".

Here we see that there is not much in the way of challenge or a consequence of choice based on the card. By turning the card into a random 'Game Object' we can start to create different outcomes to the feedback loop above. The different outcomes are related to different rewards which can be obtained. Each card has a different reward value, therefore different outcomes are possible. Once different outcomes are possible, the choice of which card to choose becomes a challenge.

The choice of which card is given is typically controlled by the one giving the card. Usually they just pull one from a stack of duplicates. However, with the modification of multiple rewards associated with the card, we reverse the choice to the receiver who now feels that they are in control of their own destiny. "Pick a card" becomes a different CUE from the normal routine. The receiver is now invested in the choice they make. This generates a greater perceived value to the business card, making them look at least twice at the information.

I hope this tip helps you to think of new ways to use your business cards in a more playful way. Thanks for reading to the end, here is a code for 10% off your first MOO order to give it a try. They also do stickers!