Consequences: A missing component in Gamification

On my quest to remind people of all the cool stuff that they are not yet using from games in their gamification, I have come across something very important and something that I had not noticed until a recent project.

Gamification very, very rarely includes consequences…

Allow me to explain.

We say that games allow for experimentation and failure – this is true. In gamification we are seeing more of this. However, in games there are consequences. You lose a life, drop all your possessions, lose health etc. Eventually, you even hit “Game Over” and have to start again.

A project I was working on recently needed this kind of feel, it was quite literally teaching in an environment that was life and death. So, the students needed to feel that whilst in the safe environment of gamificaiton, they could experiment and fail, there were consequences for repeated failure – for not learning from their mistakes!

There is a saying in business “Fail Fast”. I disagree with this. You can fail as slowly as you want, as long as you learn from your failure! I often say;

“Don’t fear failure, fear those who don’t learn from it!”

Fear of failure is not that bad a thing, if you don’t want to fail then you will try harder not to. I am not saying punish failure harshly or make them feel stupid, but just make sure that the player knows they have failed and maybe make it sting a little. Maybe, take points away or give them lives they can lose. Even if the screen just starts to become dark and foreboding as they fail more.

Holding their hand is fine, but you don’t need to cuddle them for the whole experience!

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