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A version of this story originally appeared on SGEntrepreneurs and is published here with permission.

This week’s DEMO Asia saw several startups pitch new ways to gamify real life.

Keith Ng at GameMaki challenged the audience to put away their mobile games for real-world challenges. He asked them to take a picture with a DEMO friend and put it up on the GameMaki app, which allows people to see what interesting challenges are taking place around them and easily join in by snapping a picture of the completed activity.

Businesses, sports teams, and everyday people can create their own games and casually engage customers or challenge their friends.

There haven’t been many takers, though. Perhaps everyone at the conference is just too busy to take the time and compete. I, for one, am determined to win!

Christophe Zenner, founder of Singapore-based startup Wildfire, began his perfectly polished presentation by telling the audience that Coke Zero causes cancer — or at least that’s what they say online. He pointed out that, whether it’s true or not, once an idea gains traction and goes viral online, it’s nearly impossible for a company to change the conversation.

He was joined on stage by his co-founder and brand manager Benjamin Duvall. Together, they explained that their product, InfluencerForce helps companies by scanning online conversations and alerting and engaging passionate customers when an inaccurate message starts to spread.

Why would someone care that  several million people tweeted that Coke Zero causes cancer?  Christophe pointed out that people like to be right and share their opinions. More importantly, InfluencerForce makes it fun to engage in the conversation and interject the truth. InfluencerForce rewards active influencers.

Teamie took a different approach to gamifying real life. The Singapore-based team wants to make online learning social and fun. The product aggregates video, documents, and opinion polls into a place where students can interact with their homework and each other. Teamie rewards students for asking and answering questions or submitting their homework before it’s due.

Teachers and parents have access to a detailed analysis of the student’s performance, making it easy to identify students who may need more attention.

With this layer of gaming built into so many companies, it’s important to ask – what really motivates people?  As the expert panel pointed out, rewarding customers with badges worked four years ago, but a simple badge no longer carries the same weight.

GameMaki, Wildfire, and Teamie all depend on a community of users who want recognition for their participation. Gamification is a way to add to the user experience but won’t keep people around forever. To be successful, each of these companies must concentrate on building its customer base to find out if people really want life to be a game.

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