Many moons ago I wrote about a massive misunderstanding in gamification around game mechanics and what they actually are. There were several lists around that said they were key game mechanics, which turned out to be very little to do with actual mechanics. Fast forward almost 2 years and, well it is getting better, but there is still a lot of people getting it confused. That is easily done as even in game design circles there is an argument over what they truly are, but there is a general high level agreement at least. As I summarised in my post:
As a gamification designer, it is easy to get hooked up on the intricacies of the system. The feedback mechanics, the game mechanics, the economy and the cleverness of it all. It is also easy to think, “this is going to be great” when you have a new idea and then spend waaay to long making the idea real.
What we need to to is step back from time to time and say “How will this actually impact the user”.
For example. You have this fabulous animation that you want to make use of. It fits the overall theme of the gamified solution you are building and think that it adds a little bit of playfulness to break up part of the process. Great. However, what does it really give the end user? If it is used once and adds some greater value to the process they are going through, by giving a new understanding or insight – then brilliant. If it really does give the user a break for a particularity complex part of the process, then okay. If it sits there and forces them to watch it, possibly more than once with no option to skip – step away from the idea.
A slightly cheating post today. Here are the mechanics and ideas that I have been using when supporting certain user types. I wanted to present them in a non usertype specific way. So instead of Player, here you see “Short term engagement, Activity”. This should help people see a little more clearly how to support different gamified activities.
The smaller / fainter the mechanic or idea, the less impact it has.
Click one of the links to jump straight to the activity.
One of the day to day activities that I gamify in my life, is driving. More specifically, driving economically. Best of all, you don’t need to have some expensive gamified car (like the leaf) or any apps.
My car, like most now, has an on-board computer. I have this set to always show me my current miles per gallon (MPG). The game that I play with myself revolves around keeping the MPG number as high as possible. I do this by basically driving sensibly. Not having the air-con on all the time, being in the right gear etc. It is a very simple bit of gamification that revolves around two basic mechanics. Feedback and reward.
I spoke about rewards and reward schedules a couple of weeks ago, now I want to look at feedback. If I am honest, this will repeat ideas I have mentioned before, but is should give a little more meat and context.
Feedback comes in many forms, not all of them as obvious as we may think. It is also vital to any gamified system that feedback exists. It helps user keep track of how they are progressing, how they are “doing” within the system. One of the complaints about the “real” world is that feedback is often very slow. End of year reviews, report cards, midterm exams. In the game world, we are used to constant and instant feedback. Collect something and you are notified immediate. Complete a level and you are told, gain experience and you are notified. All of this happens straight away, no waiting around months and months to understand how you have done. In call of duty, you don’t have to wait until the end of the month to find out how you have performed in the last 20 matches. You are told constantly during the match and they you are given a summary of achievements at the end.