Gamification can be so much more than points if we let it.

Customer experience 3024488 1920 Gamification can be so much more than points if we let it

Just a short plea to the games based solution industry, be it gamification, serious games, VR whatever.

If you are going to use gamification as a selling point, please (please please please) don’t use a phrase like “we gamified the experience by adding points”

I was recently on a webinar where a developer was showing off an amazing VR experience, which had narratives and gameplay and was really superb. They then used the above phrase. “We gamified the experience by adding points”. Read More ...

If You Love Gamification You Should Love This from Gustavo Tondello!

I don’t often promote other people, I’m a selfish git like that. However, the work of Gustavo Tondello at Gameful Bits is some of my favourite in the industry. His PhD research is some of the best I have seen, mixing well research data with practical application (and yes, he did work with my User Types, but that is only part of why I like his stuff!)

Anyway, he has started a new venture that should be of interest to anyone in the industry. For a small monthly Patreon fee, he will be creating in-depth articles and reviews based on the research that is out there, but in a format that is easy to digest for the busiest of consultants!

He has released a free article for you to look at, just to get an idea of what value it may be to you.

From Gameful Bits

Badges are the most used element in educational gameful design and the third most used element in gamification in general. They have been listed by many different gamification researchers and experts as one of the basic gameful design elements. But do you know exactly what role do badges perform on a gameful application? How do users perceive them and interact with them—do you know that there are at least nine different ways? How do badges motivate users to engage with the gameful system?

This article summarizes the latest research on how badges are perceived by users, what kind of users prefer to use them, and how do they motivate users of gameful systems. Finally, we give design guidelines to make the most effective use of badges in gameful design.

In short:

  • Badges are often seen as a form of incentive or reward;
  • Badges are also frequently seen as a means for goal setting and a measure of accomplishment;
  • Users with social tendencies may enjoy utilizing badges as a means for social interaction;
  • Badges can be useful as a form of positive feedback and encouragement;
  • But badges can get in the way if users are already motivated to engage with the task or if they do not perceive any real value in the badges.
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    Are Points and Badges Dead in Gamification?

    I suppose an alternative title to this could be “Should Points and Badges Be Dead in Gamification”

    When you look at gamification, you will see two main streams of thought on the use of points and badges in gamification.

    The first and probably most prevalent is that the simple addition of points and badges to a problem will make it more engaging and fun. The second is that points and badges have no place in “good” gamification.

    I have sat on both sides of the fence over the last few years and have come to the conclusion that the answer lies somewhere in the middle.


    Adding points and badges (and leaderboards etc) to a problem with no strategy, is not the way to get a good result with gamification. That is an undeniable truth. However, if you only need a very short term engagement, they can work, but there are better and more enjoyable ways to achieve short (and long) term engagement.

    The same can be said of most gamification related elements though. Just throwing a narrative or a clever mechanic with no strategy, will not give you great results. I wrote a long time ago about GaaS – Gamification as a Strategy!


    Plan out what it is you are trying to achieve and then build a solution that best fits that need. Guess what? Points and badges can be part of that solution and that strategy if they are well planed and used well.

    Using them as part of a player onboarding phase can have great outcomes. Each point and badge can be seen as pats on the back, nudges to show the user that they are doing the right thing, learning, improving and headed in the right direction. Once they are at a stage where they are no longer in need of little nudges, stop giving them. The points and badges can ease off, or change their intended purpose. Maybe they become part of an overall virtual economy within the system – for instance.

    Are They Dead?

    Of course, points and badges are not dead. They still form the core of much gamification. The solutions that are going to succeed are the ones that get their use right and don’t rely on them (or any single element or concept) for long term success!

    Is the use of points and badges gamification? Of course, it is! Don’t be afraid of them, just use them correctly and with care 🙂

    Why Netflix Patches Was a Hard No from Me as Parent and Gamification Expert

    Recently an article in Variety brought a lot of unwanted attention to gamification. The article was titled “Netflix Is Testing Patches to Gamify Bingeing for Kids

    Reading this, my heart sank, a feeling that just got worse as I read the article. To summarise, Netflix was trialing a system that would award children patches or badges for watching TV shows. Completed “A Series of Unfortunate Events”? have a badge…

    Netflix told Variety

    “We are testing a new feature on select kids titles that introduces collectible items for a more interactive experience, adding an element of fun and providing kids something to talk about and share around the titles they love. We learn by testing and this feature may or may not become part of the Netflix experience.”

    After a huge outcry on social media, Netflix pulled the plug. Again, speaking to Variety they said

    “We’ve concluded the test for patches and have decided not to move forward with the feature for kids. We test lots of things at Netflix in order to learn what works well – and what doesn’t work well – for our members.”

    What was the problem then?

    Where do I start?

    As a parent, I objected to this tactic in the strongest possible way. I absolutely do not want any more reasons for my children to feel they need to watch more TV. It is bad enough they watch as much as they do, let alone then having the added compulsion of collecting badges added on top.

    As a gamification expert, there are many reasons to be concerned by this and to dislike it.

  • It is a terrible, terrible, terrible example of using the shallowest of gamification possible. Slap a badge on it. Every expert out there in the field is telling people not to do this. It is lazy and proven to not be an effective way to sustain engagement.
  • It could only have been considered for the most terrible, almost unethical of reasons. It had nothing to do with fun, it was purely designed to give kids more incentive to stay glued to Netflix. In fact, if you consider the code of ethics that I published a while back, this red flags the Integrity section “Gamification should not be used to manipulate children for commercial purposes.”
  • Even worse it is yet another reason for people to have negative feelings towards gamification. News like this is Variety is going to be seen by thousands of people and would get more exposure than any news about it being ended. These are not stupid people. They would have seen this for what it is, a way to get kids to watch more TV and not defect to YouTube or other streaming.
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    Gamification is not just points and badges

    Ok, quick rant, move along if you don’t care about the future of our industry.

    I recently read an article, that said the following

    … gamification, the concept of points or rewards through the completion of tasks …

    It is 2018, gamification has been maturing for several years now and most of the respected leaders in the industry have been trying to dispell this concept for some time now.

    So why does it persist?

    Because the industry does not speak openly about what it is actually doing. Case studies I am using now are the same ones I was using in 2011. This either means that people are so successful that they don’t want to share the goods, or they are failing so badly they are embarrassed to share.

    There is fabulous research being done now, but so many in the industry still refuse to accept that academic research and even the rigour provided by research methods are important to the future of the gamification industry. This is can only be driven by laziness, ignorance or arrogance.

    It is up to us to drive the industry forward and we can’t do that if we keep allowing our work to be misrepresented in lazy press releases or by lazy journalists in this way. We certainly can’t do this if we refuse to adapt and evolve.

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