Simple to Complex – Different Players, Different Needs

complexityOne 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.

5320119828_11172c9af2_mIt’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

1411702665_9d1a23f19b_oOne 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.

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  1. A very interesting article and a well-designed site. Thanks for this. I am very interested in Gamification for my own online workshops.

    A bit of helpful advice (I hope): you really could use a good editor. It’s difficult to trust the authority of an author who doesn’t proofread and edit his or her work. There’s so much bad writing on the internet these days, and it’s sad to see it on a site that is otherwise as well-produced as this one.

    • Hi Patricia!

      First of all, thanks for your comment! We are Portuguese, so English is not our first language and since we don’t have the opportunity to practice our English daily, that probably brings some errors to the table. Possibly because we often think like Portuguese and try to write it in American/English. We apologize for any errors you have found. However, in my humble opinion, I don’t think this fact hurts the core of the ideas exposed here, hence the authority regarding those same ideas is not questionable.

      Our point in writing in English is to reach more people than we would if we wrote in Portuguese. If we wrote in Portuguese we would be read in Portugal, Brazil and little more. Writing in English, we can be read anywhere in the globe, even if it is a bit broken. And if the wordpress stats are not wrong, we are actually achieving that goal.

      I understand that some mistakes may be frustrating for an English native speaker, and once again, we apologize. But since we are a small Portuguese team doing this project pro-bono, it is probably easy to understand why we won’t be hiring an English editor anytime soon.

      Feel free to point out any mistakes that you find and we will gladly correct them. After all that’s what crowdsourcing (another topic we write about) is all about, collaboration.

      Nevertheless, thank you for your well–intentioned advice.

      Mário Duarte

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