Skill Trees and Gamification

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Now that I have redone the User Types, I wanted to run a small series of how elements from games can be used with gamification. If you remember, I look at Game Thinking rather than just gamification as a singular path to solutions. Games handle complex problems and ideas in a fantastic way. They can simplify the complex without losing hte meaning.

For this one, I want to consider Skill Trees.

Most commonly seen in Role Playing Games (RPG’s) such as World of Warcraft and strategy / world domination games like Civilization. The image below is an example from a game called Legends of Aethereus.

Inverntor Skill Tree

Inventor Skill tree from Legends of Aethereus

As you progress in the game, you gain experience points or some form of virtual currency. This can be spent on upgrading your abilities in the game.In RPG’s you often have to choose a class of character. Each class will have different skill paths that better suit their core skills.

In Civilisation it is a little different. All players have access to all of the research, technologies and the various units (with occasional variations based on chosen race). Instead of a skill tress, there is a research tree. Early on you only have a few choices for research, for instance pottery, alphabet and masonry.

Civilization II Early Research

Civilization II Early Research

However, each one of these unlocks opportunities to research more advanced technologies. If you research the alphabet, it allows you to research map making and writing. Your choice of research is very important as you go along the game, as some technologies need multiple previous technologies to unlock them. For instance, if early on you don’t research bronze working, you can’t open up trade. This in turn means you cant research medicine as that requires you to have both trade and philosophy.

Civilization II Multiple Research Example

Civilization II Multiple Research Example

So what you may say, well let’s translate this to a career!

When you start you choose your class. Will you be a developer, a doctor, a consultant etc. Once you know that, there is a skill tree that matches your initial choice. Early on there will be certain things you have to do, for instance you may need to do an ethics course before you are allowed to look at more client facing courses.

You may need to have done two particular sales courses before you can actually go on a client site to speak with them. Later on in your career you may decide that you want to learn something else. The skill tree could have exit points that allow you to shift what you already know towards a different class. Maybe you want to go from being a developer to being a technical consultant. The skills you have are of use, but you need more.

Gamified Skills Tree

Gamified Skills Tree

Here you can see that new developers and new consultants have to do the ethics course. Then there is a choice of options they can follow. If a developer chooses they want to get into consulting, they can take a project management course, which then lets them take the sales course. This then allows them to move to a technical consultant. However, the consultant can’t do this as they do not have the core technical skills the consultant has. That said, only the consultant can become a management consultant (as long as they do the people management course).

With a system like this in place, people could see all of the options available to them and start to map where they want to go in their careers. It also shows them where the exit points are should they want to change their core careers. They can see that they have to undertake certain training and get certain experience to move on.

It keys in to achievement as well as autonomy as it gives people control of their career and choice of how it can progress.  It helps an employee to understand they won’t stagnate, which is very important.

More elements next week!

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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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