One thing to consider while building a gamification experience is the learning curve associated with it.
A lot of people are gamers, but inside the universe of gamers we find different levels of experience and knowledge about that said universe.
On one side you have the hardcore gamers which are people who know most of everything about the game universe and don’t have much difficulty to adapt to a new kind of game, even if the mechanic strands a bit from the usual.
On the other side, you have the soft-core gamers who mostly play casual games, like Candy Crush and Farmville, which are simpler and require less knowledge about the gaming universe.
In gamification we have to consider not only these types and the whole specter in between, but also those who have never played a game. Even so if they are a rarity nowadays.
The gamification experience must be able to reach all and effectively help all, so it’s important to consider several kinds of players in layers of game complexity and ways that the experience may need to transform so that fulfills the needs of all.
It’s not an easy thing to accomplish though. Instead of thinking about levels of difficulty like it’s normal in a video-game, in which you find something similar to, “beginner”, “regular” or “difficult”, but instead thinking about levels of complexity.
Lets think about a little example:
In the summer, forest fires are always a problem. A good strategy and the collaboration of the population from the outskirts is a fundamental factor to prevent this kind of disaster.
Thinking about gamification we can setup various levels of action so that everyone can help. In a simpler base, the player will be awarded points for each forest zone that he has helped clear out of any potential fuel – such as leaves, needles, grass, branches, and logs.
The more zones the player helps clearing the better his score is.
However, who is to define these zones? Well, maybe that’s the next level of complexity of the experience, the study of the area, division in zones and calculating the number of people and time needed to clear each specific zone, which will signify a different number of points for each specific zone according to the complexity of the area.
Competition between the “planners” is a must, and would probably be based in the size of the area attributed to each one, taking in consideration the time it took to clean all the area.
A jury would of course be needed to judge how well the work was done to avoid negligence from the teams.
So you don’t like this planning thing or the cleaning and scoring is not enough for you?
Well, a lot of fires are started by human hand. Are you ready to “recruit” collaborators and create schedules to watch over some area in times when the heat is at its worst? Maybe a system similar to that of the “planners” is advisable here.
Ensuring competition between security teams, but instead being evaluated by the number of patrols made.
It would be a challenge to get enough people to create security teams and even more to create shifts and ensure that those teams would actually go through with the surveillance program. This, of course, is just a simple example and was not profoundly planned.
A lot of things were not thought of and more planning would be needed before this experience could possibly be considered as having good enough potential to be a success, it was meant as simply an example.
Simple is not always the answer
One thing that you might be thinking: Why not create just a simple experience, simple enough for everyone to appreciate?
Some people crave for the complexity. Well, not exactly for the sake of it being complex, but for the possibility of choice, for the sensation of an “open world” where the evolution of the experience may have different results according to the decisions of the “player”. Free will if you must.
The experience feels like having endless possibilities and therefore giving a sense of freedom.
At the beginning everyone may be satisfied with the experience being simple, but soon enough a good portion of the “players” will feel bored and want move on to the next experience.
Just think about it, when you learn something new, if that is something that interests you, in the beginning the simpler tasks are a good thing, but as you master them, they become old news, fast.
If you don’t see a perspective of evolution you may even give up on the spot. You feel ready for the next level, but there are no more levels to master.