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It may sound counter-intuitive, but in my experience, adding constraints to activities can make them not only more fun – but can help generate very creative solutions to problems.
When we talk about gamification and especially when we speak about motivations, we often talk about Agency and Autonomy (the A in RAMP). This would lead you to believe that for certain groups to engage, you need to give them total freedom to do whatever they want.
However, it can often be more interesting to allow freedom within a strict set of constraints. You only have £1000 to complete this task, you have 10 minutes, you have 3 lives etc.
It’s these constraints that force you to really consider your actions carefully. If you overspend, will you be able to complete the task? If you spend too long on a minor detail, will the overall task fail? If you only have three chances, do you waste them on poorly thought out strategies?
When building a gamified solution, consider how you can restrain your users from just randomly trying everything, by imposing small constraints. Use them to force reflection about each choice they make. They will feel that those choices have more impact if they had to decide what sacrifices to make to get there.
Also published on Medium.