Adding badgers would be more gamification than badges.

I had a great little article set up for today about forums, chat rooms and gamified social networks. However, with GsummitX London happening today and considering some of the things I am reading of late, I wanted to rant instead. Buckle in 🙂

Badges and points systems. You know them, and loads of you seems to love them. Now, precisely to sound like a broken record, in isolation they don’t work. You can’t make a task more fun, interesting, engaging – whatever noun you wish to use – by JUST adding badges (or badgers as I wrote. Now that would be fun. Mmm give a person a badger everytime they do something right and a honey badger when they get it wrong…). That isn’t gamification. It is like me adding a picture of Mario to a spreadsheet and saying I have created a game.

Badges are best used to recognise an achievement, not be the achievement. Put together with leader boards and social / community elements they can become an enjoyable meta game, but they can not replace intrinsic motivation.

Try harder. Make the task more engagining in its own right. Make completing the task give the player a sense that they have done something. Then recognise that they have done it with a badge. Better still, make it a surprise. That way they will want to do the task and then be have a warm fuzzy feeling that someone thought that what they had done was worthy of note.

Mario chart 300x169 Adding badgers would be more gamification than badges

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5 thoughts on “Adding badgers would be more gamification than badges.”

  1. Pingback: Links for August 6, 2012 | Andrzej's Links
  2. “…RECOGNIZE the achievement, not BE the achievement.”
    Beautifully put. This should be the driving mantra for everyone doing gamification.

    I have been watching your progression from uncritical gamification proponent to having a more thoughtful and nuanced view. I’m encouraged, though you still have a ways to go :). For example, your last sentence: “have a warm fuzzy feeling that someone thought that what they had done was worthy of note.” There’s nothing fundamentally *wrong* with this, but it is the textbook description of EXtrinsic motivation. A true intrinsically rewarding experience would replace “someone” with “they (themselves)” as in, “have a warm fuzzy feeling that they thought what they had done was worthy…”. Intrinsically motivating experiences are — by definition — those that are not in any way dependent on what someone *else* thinks/feels/approves of. It is the difference between, “I did this thing and, wow, I was actually pretty badass” vs. “I did this thing and others thought I was badass.” or, much worse (and the basis of nearly all gamification today) “I did this so others would think I am badass.”

    You appear to be on the path to a deeper understanding of the subtle yet powerful pscyhological interactions around motivation. I wish I could say the same for most involved in gamification today, but few seem willing to have an open mind or, especially, to reconsider their previously-held (but not well-informed) positions. So, go you 🙂

    • Thanks, I think. !! The warm fuzzy idea is more about a – that’s nice – now let me get on with being good at my job (or whatever) it is not meant as a motivational thing really, more affirmation. All very hard to explain to people who view it as stick a badge on it and it is Gamification!!


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