How to use gamification the RIGHT way
You’re a game designer. So naturally, you may often think about gamification.
But what is gamification?
Well, it depends on who you ask. But if you think about it, you’ll start to see this everywhere. It’s all about applying elements of game design outside of games.
There are different ways to use gamification and for different purposes.
One way we often see this used is through incentivizing people to do something by giving them a reward. Gamification is often used as marketing technique to persuade people to try a product or service, or to provide feedback.
Have you ever been asked to fill out a survey for your chance to win a prize or gift card? This type of gamification can definitely incentivize the wrong thing.
Are you filling out the survey because you care about the product or service, or do you just want the chance to win something for free?
This is a particularly important question if the prize is completely unrelated to the survey. It’s one thing to give away a print and play version of your game or offer the chance to win an expansion to a game people already own by providing feedback on your game and another thing to offer an iPad related to your grocery shopping experience.
It’s the same thing when trying to build an email list, perhaps with the intent to create a buzz and grow your following before launching a Kickstarter project. People may enter a contest to win a completely unrelated game you are offering but will they be there for you when you need backers for your campaign?
Maybe or maybe not. These are all examples of extrinsic motivations and rewards, which I would argue is not usually the best approach.
What you really want is for people to play your game, try your service, or buy your product because they feel they will benefit from this. If what you’re offering is good enough to stand on its own, you won’t need to offer any external rewards.
These internal benefits are known as intrinsic motivations and rewards.
They are more based on personal achievement and accomplishment.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t offer food and drink to playtesters when they come to your home to try your game. That’s just being a good host. However, after that initial encouragement for them to attend, make sure that your game is great (or at least has the potential to become great), so that the players enjoy the game and want to play again because it’s just a great experience.
What are some examples you’ve seen of gamification done well? How are you incentivizing players to try out your game?
I used gamification in my classrooms previously in that I gave students points for doing the things I wanted them to do, such as using the class website. They could then use these points for rewards, and thee was an extra reward for the student who had the most points. The results were that the students who would do those things anyway got all the points, and those who didn’t just gave up because they were always behind. Similar examples are making games out of worksheets and giving points or prizes for those who finish first or whatnot. The kids aren’t fooled; they know these aren’t really games and you’re trying to trick them into doing the work.
That’s why in school it’s important to make a distinction and focus on game-based learning, instead. Use games that require the skill you are trying to get them to practice, but in order to accomplish something else, so that doing the work isn’t the goal of the activity.