Gamification Element: Investment

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I have just added a new element to the gamification periodic table, investment.

Whilst I have Loss Aversion and a few other things that may seem similar, I have felt for some time that there was still an ingredient missing. It turns out, it was investment (I think…).

Now, you may instantly think of investment as a financial affair, in fact, the icon I have chosen deliberately induces that though. However, investment comes in several flavours;

  1. Financial: Money, virtual currency, possessions
  2. Emotional: When you get into a good book or film, you are emotionally invested. The same is true of any relationship.
  3. Time: When you spend time doing something, you are investing in it. So time spent getting your stats as high as possible in-game, that’s a significant investment.
  4. Effort: Whether it is mental or physical, expending effort is an investment in an activity.

A great example of all of these being in play is higher education. Students have to spend money on tuition fees (or at least be aware they will be paying them back for some time). They have to invest emotionally, not just in the subject and the process of learning for higher education, but also in the relationships they form whilst in higher education. They have to invest a significant amount of their time, years in fact. Finally, there is a huge amount of mental effort required to succeed.

When someone invests anything into a task, they are more likely to assign an intrinsic value to it. As I have said repeatedly, rewards are only meaningful if they require some level of effort or investment to achieve.

Here is the latest version of the Periodic Table (Available as a poster from here)

Periodic Table of Gamification Elements

Periodic Table of Gamification Elements


Also published on Medium.

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1 Response

  1. Nice! Investment I’d say also can place us in the position of the sunk cost fallacy, assigning something value just because some investment was made. This holds true even when that something seems irrelevant upon analysis, but if “I have invested so much on it, have to get something from my effort”, which actually causes us trouble.
    I also thought back on the investment phase that Nir Eyal talks about in his Hooked model, where the fact that the user/player invests, increases the power of the loop and the hook itself!

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Andrzej Marczewski
About Andrzej Marczewski twitter facebook    

Gamification Consultant with Motivait. 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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