This is a post that I originally wrote for EnGaming – Repoduced with kind permission (go check them out!!)
Time for some fun
Every now and again I like to just write something for fun. After writing lots and lots of gamification articles, I got to thinking of fun / daft examples. People often quote video game references when talking about gamification. However, it was when I saw Jon Guerrera talking at GSummit (via On-Demand I might add) about using Post-It notes to gamify his life, I was reminded a more low tech example I had mentioned in the past. Monopoly.
Right, bear with me, with any luck there will be some profound meaning to this by the end (Lying with a straight face Achievement Unlocked).
If you tear away the fun parts of Monopoly, you are left with buying and selling property. Gamifying that doesn’t sound easy, but that is exactly what Monopoly does. You start by representing the property with cards. Ok, not much there. You may be able to pull off a game of Top Trumps or Gin Rummy.
Next, you put a board in that represents the plots of land and utilities that our property exists in. Using dice to determine where on the board you move put a little bit of randomness and unpredictability into the mix. Unpredictability is a hugely important mechanic as it means that the system is never stale. You never know what is going to happen next, so you can’t begin to predict outcomes. Adding to this randomness there are community cards and chance cards. These offer positive and negative events to the player.
You wrap all of this up in some simple rules. Land on an unoccupied square and you can buy the property (if you have money). Land on an occupied square and pay rent to the owner. Buy houses and hotels for your plots of land and earn more money.
These simple little game design elements and rules turn the life of an landlord into one of the most popular games in history.
The Profound bit (well, the take away bit)
Gamification does not have to be complicated. Tweaking a process here or adding a bit there may be all that is needed to turn a simple un-engaging task into something more. The key in my example is that each addition to the game of Monopoly added something to the overall game play and enjoyment of the players. It was not added gloss and without each of those elements, the game would be nowhere near as good.
When you are looking at gamifying a system, keep that in mind. Are you doing things to the process that in some way enhance it. Look at the journey the user takes through the system or process. Examine the areas where they stumble or where they begin to lose interest. These are the areas that you need to try to enhance in some way. Could (God forbid) adding some form of achievement at that point be the push they need to get past it. Could the process use some kind of technology to make it less daunting? Could you break it down into a few extra steps that flow more naturally than trying to tackle it all at once?