Winning isn’t everything – demotivating by allowing a win state

Reading Time: 2 minutes (ish)

Most people like to win. There is something deep down inside all of us who love to be the winner, to experience the rush that comes with beating something. It may be a game, it may be winning at sport, it may be collecting all the Pokemon. Whatever it is, you get a huge feeling of achievement – Fiero.

The trouble is, winning is short lived. Once you have won, what happens next?

In sport winning is just one part of playing the sport. One win is great, but you still need to train and train so that you can win again. Very few people can say that there is nothing left to attain in their chosen sport.

In video games there is something similar. Winning a match in Call of Duty is great, but you could always be better next time. Win faster, win by more points, win in a more stylish way – there is always something left to master.

An example from my own experience, getting your Black Belt in a martial art. Contrary to being the end of your journey to mastery the art, it is really just your first step into understanding what mastery of the art actually means and the realisation that you are still way off being a master!

Another example, that I have mentioned in the past, was my daughters rewards chart! Once she had achieved her goal, there was no longer a reason to behave well!

All of these examples have a common theme. Winning or attaining your goal, is not the end of your desire to carry on. There is normally something left to master.

Your gamified system is different. Once I have collected all the badges and all of the points – what is left. There is nothing to master, as normally there are no real skills needed to “earn” these rewards. I will not want to “play” again as there is nothing to play. Most gamified systems totally forget about mastery – actually needed a challenge that requires some level of skill. So when I “win” at your gamified system, unless you have managed to convert my reason for being there form extrinsic to intrinsic – I am just left with a bit “So what” in my mind.

Make sure that you have a plan that either extends the life of your gamified system (possibly indefinitely) so that a single win is not the end for me, or that your system has a real reason for me to stay! Think non zero sum….


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2 Responses

  1. Romell Avenda o Romell Avendaño says:

    Excellent article, I enjoyed reading it. Moreover when you talked about Pokemon, WOW …. I thought, this guy is really on the wave. By the way, in my Pokédex just I have 47 🙁

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Andrzej Marczewski
About Andrzej Marczewski twitter facebook    
Gamification thought leader and evangelist, I love to write about it, talk about it and bore people to death with it! If you really want to get to know me, check out the About page.

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