As we edge closer to Gamification EU, I was thinking about the lessons I wish I had learned earlier on when I started in Gamification. Keep in mind, at that stage there was not a lot of information about gamification, it was in its infancy (2011/2012).
There are many tools available to gamification designers to help them with their designs. One of the most useful for me, for reasons I will go into here, is the concept of User Types.
There are many views on user profiling and many ways to do it. Some people love it, some hate it. I am in the middle. It is a very useful tool, but it is not the only thing you should rely on. For me, they can be a useful way to understand or at least considers the motivation so those who will be using your system.
Bartle’s Player Types
In the games world there are a few famous player type models, Bartle’s Player Types being the most well known . In these he breaks down players of his famous Multi-User Dungeon (MUD) game into 4 key types. Killer, Achiever, Socliasler and Explorer. Each type of player had a different motivation to play the game.
In the last chapter, I briefly touched on reward schedules. The most basic way to define reward schedules is that they are a set of rules that define when a reward (or any kind of feedback) is given to the user. I am going to discuss three core types of reward schedule, Random Rewards, Fixed Rewards and Time Dependent. I’m also going to introduce some ideas on how to balance the release of rewards and their perceived value.
These tough to explain, and really hard to implement well! A random reward is one that the user is not expecting and should probably have no reason to expect. For instance, a badge for their forty-second achievement in a system. There is no obvious reason for it but done with a little Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy humour, it may make someone smile at least!
Warning, this is one of my longest blogs ever!
Now we know a bit about what games, gamification and game-based solutions are (and are not), it’s time to start to consider some of the non-game related topics you need to understand to be good at building game-based solutions. The first of these is motivation.
In gamification we tend to look at motivation in varying depths, starting from a very simple perspective with just two options. Intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation.
The most basic way to look at this is that activities that are intrinsically motivating are those that people will do because they want to or appreciate the benefits of doing them. Activities that require rewards, extrinsic motivation, people do because there is a reward, not because they want to do it. It is not quite as black and white as that, but it is a good starting point – read on!
Gamification is often accused of creating activity rather than engagement. Whilst this can be true, is it a bad thing?
First, let’s look at the difference between activity and engagement. Engagement is very hard to define and has plenty of definitions out there. For our purposes, we will consider it as a state where a person is voluntarily participating in an activity with commitment, without the feeling of being forced or coerced into participation. It is heading towards them “wanting” to participate.