Many years ago, I made a typo in a tweet when I mentioned badgers instead of badges. I even turned it into a blog, “Adding badgers would be more gamification than badges.”
It was a slightly idealistic view of badges, where I was almost saying “don’t use badges as they are bad”. I was young and impressionable! However, it was the first time I mentioned my philosophy on badges and rewards in general
“Rewards should recognise achievement, not be the achievement”
This is as true now as it was then, but it is not the only viewpoint and it is not 100% accurate. Badges get a bad reputation in and around the gamification industry, often seen as a lazy way to try and inject some activity into a system. This is true of far too many implementations, so I wanted to look at a few ways in which badges are better than badgers and what we can learn from that. To be honest, I could have called this article “50 Shades of Badges” as there is no black and white at all when you start to dig into their benefits and their pitfalls!