Designing Gamification That Makes Sense

EPSON scanner imageWhat ever happened to gamification? The term gamification dropped a hybe-bomb on the IT-landscape at the end of 2011/early 2012. Luckily, today it’s a much more sustainable discussion on how to leverage game design mechanics and principles in a wide range of software applications. At VINT, I’ve done some research on how gamification works and how we can deploy this design methodology. In this post I want to share some thoughts.

Don’t believe the hype
To follow the curve of gamification in the past years you just have to look at how Gartner’s been talking about this trend. In 2011 Gartner claimed that more than 70% of the world’s largest 2,000 companies are expected to have deployed at least one gamified application by year-end 2014. That of course might still be true, but Gartner also shared a reality check afterwards saying 80% of current gamified enterprise applications will fail to meet their objectives, due largely to poor design. Other interesting stats are that the overall market for gamification tools, services, and applications is projected to be $5.5 billion by 2018 (M2 Research) and the fact that the enterprise industry vertical already accounts for 1/4th of all gamification vendor revenues (M2 Research). So how to achieve that?

Meaningful interaction with gamedesign
A lot of people think, “Hey, games are fun. Let’s apply gamedesign to work, and work will be fun!” Well, games are not all fun. Games are continuing loops of trial and error and a lot of failure. Games are 80% frustration, and the part that’s fun is the part when you start to notice that the time you invested in improving your skills is starting to pay off.

To me gamification is about a UX-design strategy to leverage (or borrow) some of the smart mechanics we know from gamedesign. And this is not only about points, badges and leaderboards (it should be called pointification if that is the case) but also about social aspects like teamplay or competition, structure and things like learning curves for improving skills and mastering stuff.

Learning curves and getting better
Good gamification sets short-term achievable goals, provides real-time feedback, and recognizes accomplishments – all of which drive engagement and motivation. In gamification, goals should be designed like this:

Schermafbeelding 2014-03-18 om 16.01.53

Good gamification provides real-time feedback and awards incentivize users to adapt to new processes and systems, creating loops to keep users coming back. In gamedesign this is called the compulsion loop.

Schermafbeelding 2014-03-18 om 16.04.08

A few tips
To close this first post on gamification I included a list of tips below this paragraph; please feel free to add your tips in the comments. When it comes to gamification use cases it usually boils down to the same usual suspects. So, please add any cool use cases in the comments, maybe from the testing or security community or any other field of expertise.

  • Get as much data as you can, not just demographic but also behavior analysis.
  • Create personas. Not all games are alike, so check this article on player types.
  • A/B test whatever you can to see what users actually respond to.
  • Preserve intrinsic motivation by letting people obtain skills, not points only.
  • Reward power users and feedback.

2 comments on “Designing Gamification That Makes Sense

  1. Add: You are never done. Once the goals and achevements + perks are set you are not done as a company. they have to keep growing based on feedback from the community.

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