Editable Google Slide (CC-BY-4.0)
Too often “Gamification” (i.e. bonus points, level ups, badges, etc.) is seen as a “silver bullet” solution to making it more interesting for people to perform certain actions.
Don’t forget that there are at least two other equally powerful age-old strategies to induce action:
- Storification (not to storing something, but turning it into a story).
By inventing or digging up a story around the action we can make a person much more likely to suspend her disbelief and come play with us (essentially doing what we want her to).
- Toyification (i.e. turning something into a toy, but not a game).
There is a big and often poorly understood difference between games and toys. MIT Media Lab folks have it all well thought through. But the simple way to think about it is this: games are goal-oriented, toys are exploration-oriented. Games can be competitive or cooperative, zero sum or non-zero-sum, but essentially there is always a fairly restricted world and a well-set measurable goal for the player to move towards. On the other hand, toys are simply objects with certain affordances and behaviors baked into them. There are no goals. It’s entirely up to the player to make up her own world and set out her own goals (or not). Toyification is a much more delicate thing, but not at all less powerful. Especially when the action that we want to induce is not some linear “button pressing”, but in itself an open task requiring creativity and experimentation. The key element in “toyification” is curiosity and surprise.
Long story short, when you are designing your next service, or campaign or a loyalty program, don’t always resort to “badges” and “points”.
There are lots of other ways to make things more interesting.