AMP up your Goals and Smash those New Year’s Resolutions!

Amp banner AMP up your Goals and Smash those New Year 8217 s Resolutions

2023 is underway now and most of us have probably already given up on our goals for the New Year! You are not alone though, a study in 2021 found that two-thirds of us give up our New Year’s Resolutions within a month!

There can be many reasons for this, but in my experience, it more often than not is down to unrealistic and unachievable goal setting. “I’m going to go to the gym every day”. “I’m going to practice my scales for an hour every day”. “I’m going to do 10,000 steps every day” etc etc etc. Read More ...

Learning from Games: Managing Expectations – Part 2

By tzimt0ms Learning from Games Managing Expectations 8211 Part 2

Continuing on from Part 1, as is the tradition, where we looked at how they manage your expectations right up to learning how to play, now we are now going to look at how games manage expectations during gameplay. If you have not read Part 1 – head there now! Learning from Games: Managing Expectations – Part 1

Difficulty – Setting the Skill Expectations

Many games, before or during play, allow you to change the difficulty settings. I remember Doom doing this particularly well, using rather grim terminology to set the scene for what to expect! Where Doom chose negative language, making you feel like you are probably going to get destroyed in moments – Duke Nuk’em went for slightly more bravado filled options. “I’m too young to die” became “Piece of Cake” for instance! Read More ...

Progress: My Desert Island Gamification Element

Progress Progress My Desert Island Gamification Element

You want to use gamification as part of a solution you are building, but resources are limited and you can’t take a fully gamified approach. What is the one gamification element that you would insist was included, no matter what?

For me, it would be progress.

Start with Goals

This is not a single element, so this may be a bit of a cheat. Progress is linked to two main concepts. Goals and Feedback, something I spoke about at length in Part 5 of my Introduction to Gamification (which I will return to writing very soon!). So to include progress in a design, I need to be able to create goals for the user. As I mention in the linked article, these can be large goals that are then broken down into smaller goals:

Quest –> Levels -> Missions -> Task

But you can’ have goals without feedback – otherwise, how do you know how close you are to completing goals. Again, as I say in the article, feedback comes in many shapes and forms, from progress bars to full virtual currencies!

Now Feedback

So that I don’t cheat too much, I will limit myself here to one simple feedback mechanic, a progress bar.

It isn’t glamorous or exciting, but it works a treat! It is a simple way to tell users how close they are to achieving their goals.

The nice thing about a progress bar is that it can be presented in so many different ways. From dials to pie charts to simple bars. But they don’t always have to be positive. Think about lives in a video game. They give you inverse progress. The further from your goal you are, the fewer hearts you have!

The only limit is your imagination really.


What would your one gamification element be – your desert island element if you will?

Honest Work: Outcome Based Goals and Feedback

Itsachair Honest Work Outcome Based Goals and Feedback

We recently moved office, which has offered me the chance to bring to mind a concept my Mum would refer to as “Honest Work”. What is honest work? In this case manual labour involved in building flat pack chairs and setting up networks, but in Mum’s definition, it is anything that has a physical or visible outcome. For instance, stacking shelves in a warehouse, putting up some shelves, creating a routine in a bit of software. Anything where you can quickly see results and even better, results you can be proud of.

As I sit in the chair that I “built”, I feel a slight sense of pride. “I did that, I made the chair I’m sat on”. It is a sort of primal instinct… “ugh, me made this”.

A lot of modern jobs don’t give you that sort of primal reward, that feeling of “ugh, me made this”. When I worked as a sales/consultant type person, there were very few times where at the end of the day I felt I had actually achieved something. There was nothing to show for days and days of research and work because it produced nothing that gave any kind of immediate feedback. It was hard to focus on the end goals as it always seemed so far away.

This makes it very tough to stay engaged. It is hard to feel pride in something that is often so abstract.

Outcome Based Goals and Feedback

When we look to games for inspiration of how to fix this, it can be tough coming up with more than just “give them feedback”. Whilst this can help, people need more. The first step should be to consider how you can give them that daily feeling of “ugh, me made this”. Set small concrete goals that can be achieved daily or at least every few days, with objectives that have something to show for them, outcome based goals! If you need a presentation about the daily routines of 300 sloths across 10 years, make goals that allow the person doing to be slightly creative. Yes, this is going to take ages, but by the end of this week can I have the first few sections of an infographic to show the first 2 years of the study.

It’s all about making people feel like they have achieved something regularly, whilst still achieving their overall goal! Small wins building up to the final epic win (I really hate that term…) .

There may still be work to do in the office, but at least I am sitting in a really comfy chair that I built!

Review Video!

On a side note, I recently decided to try doing a video review of my new Vox amPlug AC30 headphone amp on YouTube, here are the results of my efforts!

S.M.A.R.T Gamification – Goal Setting

SMART Goals S M A R T Gamification 8211 Goal Setting

In one of those “D’oh” moments, it occurred to me that management types have been promoting one of the core components of gamification since at least the 80’s!

We all agree that one of the main aspects that forms good gamification is good goal setting (at least I hope we all do by now). Well The Management have been told to do this for about 30 years now – ever since a concept called “SMART” was first given air. SMART is an acronym (of course, we all love one of them), that generally stands for;

  • pecific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound


It is important in gamification to make goals clear.  “I want to lose weight”, is not a specific goal! “I want to lose 10lbs” is specific. This is where you ask the “Who, What, Why, Where” type questions.


If you can’t measure progress, how do you know you are heading towards your goal? Set sub markers to your goal. You also have to have a win state – in this case “I have lost 10lbs”


This is probably the most important for me. I could set a goal to lose 50lbs – but is that realistic and achievable? Can I even set up a way to measure the goal over the time I may have to do it in? As I have said before, humans tend to be bad at handling things that are going to happen too far in the future or that are too big for us to fully and clearly grasp. Also, if you only have 20 minutes a night to work out, is the goal to lose 50lbs in a set time period actually possible?


Does the goal have a meaning that is relevant to you. If you set yourself the goal of running the London Marathon, but hate running – how will you motivate yourself to do it? In a work setting, this may be a little harder to manage. You may not like documenting a project, but it has to be done. Instead set your self mini challenges that result in doing something you do like!


Having a clear idea of when a goal needs to be achieved really helps. “I want to lose 10lbs” is great, but by when? “I want to lose 10lbs before my holiday” gives you a fixed period that you need to be working in. I have spoken about the effect time has on decision making. Goals that are closer are much easier for you to visualise and get working on!


All of these things should be familiar to the gamification designer. It is just nice to know that there is a way to put some of it into words that management should be able to understand!