When you think of playing games, what comes to mind? For many people, it's the fun and excitement of self-expression and achievement of goals.
The video game industry is so popular because they tap into something that is inherently human - the need to compete and succeed.
This is what makes game elements & mechanics so powerful within a gamified system - they can be used to motivate and engage users, encouraging them to take action.
In this blog post, we will discuss 8 examples of game mechanics that have been successfully used within gamification.
- Rewards Systems
- Goals & Challenges
- Loss Aversion
- Feedback Systems
All of these gamification elements can be used to increase engagement and motivation within non-game contexts. For example, if you're trying to get people to act immediately, you could offer rewards for response time from users.
If you're trying to get users to exercise more, you could give them points for every mile they walk. Or, if you're trying to get people to save money, you could give them badges for reaching certain milestones.
The key is to find the right game mechanic for your specific goals and audience. So, let's take a closer look at each of these game mechanics.
Points are quantifiable indicators of success.
Points serve two primary functions within gamification designs - they assist players in keeping track of their advancement and establishing their status. Points are awarded for completing activities, sharing, or contributing.
Points are the granular units of measurement in gamification, and they are the cornerstone of game design elements.
Collecting points triggers a psychological need in users to see how many they can acquire.
Creating tiers of achievement helps build an overall sense of where a participant sits within a line of progression.
Levels are used to indicate that a user has reached a particular milestone. Levels are often defined as point thresholds so that users can automatically level up based on their participation, or use levels to indicate status and control access to content on the site.
Because of this, levels are the ultimate test. A person who has successfully completed a level has passed an essential amount of goals and objectives that had previously been thought impossible for them.
It can be as important to see where you can go next as it is to see where you have been and levels are a great display of that.
Participants may be awarded badges after a set amount of points have been gained. Badges are a form of virtual achievement by the participants. They provide positive reinforcement for the targeted behaviour.
Badges, unlike Leaderboards, do not update who is placed on them regularly. Badges are given to individuals as a way of celebrating their own accomplishments. Badges address the human motivation of collection and achievement as a driver.
Badges have a social aspect to them, as we humans often crave outward recognition for our accomplishments; gamification strategy utilises this human behaviour as a driver within initiatives to get the most out of participants.
One of the most popular game mechanics is the leaderboard.
Showing a user how they compare to others, as an individual or in a team, is one of the most effective methods to encourage them to give their full effort and provide all that they have to a task.
The use of time-based, high score, team, and individual leaderboards allows users to compare their performance to that of others.
Leaderboards cultivate the social aspect of points and badges. The sense of competition that is built around a leaderboard, gives people a chance to prove themselves against others, and can even be a way to win rewards.
They can be used to encourage competition and motivate people to improve their gameplay. Leaderboards can also be used to create a sense of community and belonging.
Players who see their name on the leaderboard perceive themselves as a part of something larger, and they're more inclined to come back and play again.
5. Reward Systems
Yet another game mechanic that is often used is rewards. Rewards can be given for completing tasks, reaching milestones, or simply for playing the game. They serve as an incentive to keep playing and to encourage players to come back.
Three examples of rewards include; virtual currency, virtual goods & prizes, and actual real-life prizes.
While a lot of marketers believe rewards need to be on a grand scale to attract engagement, the truth is we're all social beings and gamification research has discovered that a player's performance improves greatly with the promise of any form of reward that can be used as a sign of achievement within the entire community.
6. Goals & Challenges
Goals are the objectives that points, badges, and challenges all stem from.
Challenges give users a purpose for interaction while educating users about what is valued and possible within the experience.
With gamification, goals are a powerful mechanic to motivate people to action. If the narrative gives a sense of purpose, then goals give a sense of direction.
Challenges help keep people interested, just when participants may feel like they have mastered all that there is to master, when interest is starting to drop off, that is when you test their knowledge and provoke them into applying it.
Overcoming challenges will make people feel they have earned their achievements.
Gamification is all about user engagement and challenges are a way of making the process less robotic, forcing individuals to get off autopilot and actually get involved in what they’re doing.
7. Loss Aversion
No one likes to lose things, the fear of losing status, friends, points, achievements, possessions, progress, etc, can be a powerful reason for people to maintain and move ahead with a task.
Think of it this way, what motivates you more, earning $5 or not losing $5? It’s funny how having something within your possession, gives you an unspoken responsibility to care for it.
When you start a virtual worlds game like FarmVille, you’re gifted with a piece of digital farmland, filled with crops and livestock. The sense that you must care for your land and all that is within it has managed to keep some players still to this day logging on to Facebook, to see how they’re progressing.
8. Feedback Systems
When participants in a gamified initiative are regularly notified of goals and achievements, this feedback allows for them to feel a sense of progression which then encourages participants to lean into the progressive momentum and achieve further results.
Having a progress bar and more features that provide greater visibility of feedback, are all positive motivators that yield greater engagement rates with a gamification initiative.
A few examples include onscreen notifications, text messages, word of mouth, or emails. Feedback mechanics can be used to congratulate a user for reaching a goal or encourage the next steps towards a milestone.
In the end, if you're creating actionable gamification in a fun way, you will experience blissful productivity from your users.
As you can see, there are many different game mechanics that can be used to encourage people to play games.
These game mechanics can be used to improve player retention, motivate players to keep playing, and create a sense of community.
What are some of your favourite examples of gamification using game mechanics effectively? Let us know in the comments below!