There is nothing worse than playing against people who are miles ahead of you in terms of either ability or equipment. It is very demoralising to lose time and time again when in reality you never have a chance. Take leaderboards as a good example. Very often the people at the top are always the same few names, over and over again. For most companies, this does not seem to get addressed for some reason. It’s a bit like pitting your local Sunday Dad’s league against Chelsea every week. There is no opportunity for the Sunday players to ever be as good as Chelsea, they will get destroyed week after week until they give up playing. It is totally unfair and unbalanced. This is why in organised sports, you have divisions and leagues. You only play against people that you have a fair(ish) chance of beating.
Leaderboards have been a staple of gaming and gamification for as long as both have existed. From Space Invaders, to baseball, to your gamified CRM system – all have had leaderboards in there somewhere.
The reasoning goes “if you are the top, you feel special and if you are at the bottom, you don’t want to be there so are motivated to improve”.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? Instant engagement. DO well, feel special. Do badly, be motivated to do better. In some cases, this is can be the case. In sports, it is a way of knowing where a team is in the league and how many points they need to improve by. In space invaders it was a way to create a more social or even personal challenge in the game, helping to create that “one more go” feeling. If I have one more go, I know I can be better than AAA or myself.
Gamification often uses points, deal with it. They can form a solid backbone to a system, after all, they are just a granular form of tracking and record keeping!
My issue today is with a misconception about using experience points in gamification. In games, we know that experience points are used in many titles. In a game, experience points (XP) are gained by doing tasks, completing missions, killing the bad guys and more. Often, the early stages of games see the user “grinding”, doing small, unskilled repetitive tasks over and over again, to gain XP.
A question I get asked a great deal is “Are points, badges and leaderboards enough?” The stock answer from me is usually a resounding “No, you must consider motivation and the needs of the user, think RAMP and more…” In fairness, this is good advice and you should consider intrinsic motivation over extrinsic and the like. However, the answer really should be “Sometimes, it depends what your goals are.” You see, if you are looking for a short term or short sharp engagement, PBL may well be fine. Very often in gamification we are trying desperately to get people to consider long-term motivations and engagements. Really, it is likely that it is just a single simple task that people want completing. Read a new policy, complete the training, check out a new product.
A while back I wrote an article about how you have to balance the reward value of activities against the value to the client, user and effort.
The basic idea was that if a user has to work hard to get a reward, it had better be worth something. At the same time, if the value of the activity is high to the client, the reward should also be worth having.
At the time I wrote that, I developed a simple spreadsheet to help me calculate reward values for activities for a client I was working with. I thought I would share that with you to help you with your projects as well.