Gamification is not the same as video games, but it uses some game features, actually, video game designers have known for years how to incentivize and motivate players by leveraging the data their games generate. Whether it´s the player´s score, enabling players to “level up” at key milestones, providing players with achievements to unlock, or supplying players with a leaderboard of competitors, video games successfully, consistently, and repeatably use data to motivate players to new heights (Paharia, 2013).
Gamification mechanics become the “spark” of human motivation and data, they provide a compelling user experience that motivates and engages your customers, employees and citizens.
1. Fast Feedback
This mechanic is very important especially for teams. Slow feedback disconnects the action from the result, making learning difficult and motivation harder, and weakening the power of the feedback. On the other hand, positive feedback reinforces good behaviours. In a gamified environment, fast feedback has the power to let the user know that he´s accomplished a specific goal or a milestone, and suggest the next action for the user to take.
Gamification is about motivating and engaging people, so a big part of the user experience is to always let players see exactly where they stand and where everyone else stands. Users can track their progress in real-time and through this mechanic see how they’re doing and how they´ve done historically. They can also compare themselves with other individuals, with friends and family or even with the overall community.
This mechanic gives the users a purpose. Explicitly defined goals also serve to identify what activities are possible in the experience, as well as what behaviours are valued. Goals can be of various types, but probably the most important aspect of this mechanic is the level of personalization. In a work environment, it´s important to create goals that can be applied to specific business units, roles, skill profiles, or even individuals.
At some point in your life, you probably used this phrase “I don´t need to read the manual of instructions” right? We all do that. Rare is the gamified environment that drops you in with no instruction on how to interact with. Players get experience by doing, but they must be coached by the gamification system until they feel they have sufficient mastery to venture off on their own.
Levels are used as a short-hand way of indicating long-term, sustained achievement and status. Reaching level 50, for example, makes you the king of gamification and that means that you dedicated a good amount of time and achieved a certain amount of skills. Levels can also provide players with intermediate goals, or small wins, and as you increase your spend (gamification for clients solution, for example) you level up to a tier with higher status and better benefits.
If levels are used as a short-hand way of indicating long-term, sustained achievement and status, badges are indicators of specific accomplishments, tasks or skills. Badges have significant meaning when we talk about community. To the individual player one badge is a mark of achievement and status, and to the community is a way of identifying engagement, skills, and expertise.
Many of the gamification mechanics that we described can be useless without a community. If we don´t have anyone to compete with, to collaborate with or if we don´t have anyone to show off our status to, it will be difficult to engage and motivate your clients, citizens and employees. So the community is a crucial prerequisite for gamification, depending of course, on your context.
We all have an innate need for social connection and as such love to compete and collaborate with others. Teams provide a great opportunity to connect and bond with others and work together to accomplish goals and compete with other teams.
Competition can take many forms, from straightforward leaderboards to competing for scarce assets, to just wanting to one-up your friend. Leaderboards measure how are you doing in real-time and you can compare the current status against your friends or colleagues and with the community.
Many people think that gamification is only about points, badges and leaderboards. We already demystify this myth in a previous article (5 Myths about gamification). In a business environment points are a way of rewarding a participant for doing something of value to you (e.g. fill the timesheet, give feedback to your colleague, etc). So in a gamified environment, points can be an exchange currency, in airline companies, for example, sometimes you can exchange for frequent-flyer miles, and they can be the foundation for some of the other gamification mechanics, such as levels, as well as a reward for accomplishing goals and challenges.
All these gamification mechanics are the “spark” of human motivation. Compelling them with the user experience will deliver more value, engage, motivate and reward your loyal customers, employees and citizens.