Gamification – Past the details
A lot of talking is being made around gamification nowadays. But sometimes the discussion is built around something that is not as important as it appears to be at first sight.
Points, badges, ranks, levels… these are important mechanics to consider when creating a game, but if a game isn’t able to entertain without them, forget it! It’s not a game, it’s some kind of Frankenstein made of weak and superfluous gimmicks.
When you play chess with a friend, you don’t have any of these elements, but you still play and you still have fun.
I still remember the 11 consecutive games of chess that I’ve played with a friend 10 years ago. At the end I was tired, but it was pure fun. We were at a bar and, while we were playing, everything around us just seemed to disappear; we were totally focused in the game. There were no points, no ribbons and no levels… the game was all there was for us, in that particular moment.
Sometimes, when playing a game, we can even lose track of the score. It’s not important if we are winning or losing, but we keep playing and still have a lot of fun. It’s pure intrinsic reward, the challenge, the overcoming of your perceived limitations.
What makes a gaming experience a good experience, is the environment, the meaning, the story, your perception of yourself inside the game, the acknowledgement of your skills and limitations, and the possibility to perceive improvement, the personal evolution, the journey.
And when we are talking about games, we could easily be talking about gamification.
The importance of feedback
The validation of the elements and strategy used in gamification depends on the feedback of the player. The player decides whether or not the experience is working for him. So, the “game” must be always open to adaptation based on the player’s feedback.
The idea of building a gamification based environment, marking it as a finished product, and just delivering it to the player, may work. However, that gamified environment will probably only please a small percentage of its target players.
The ideal setting must leave margin for adaptation, so that it can please the majority of its target players. What we are proposing here is a continuous adaptation, based in a collaborative effort, much to the likes of crowd-sourcing, where all the gamification experience is created, not only by the developers, but also by its future players.
This way, the experience can always evolve in a way that’s more efficient and meaningful. Instead of creating a product and waiting for people to be satisfied with it, the exact same people will be able to help to collaboratively design the ideal gamified product.
In fact, we have already stated our point of view regarding crowd-sourcing, in our free report. Grab a copy, in case you haven’t yet!